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Due to the half-duplex transmission nature of cooperative protocols, almost all cooperative diversity systems suffer from low spectral efficiency. In general, adaptive modulation can offer a good tradeoff between spectral efficiency and bit-error-probability (BEP) performance of wireless communication systems. In this paper, we propose two adaptive modulation schemes for the cooperative system with detect-and-forward relaying that simultaneously exploit the cooperative diversity gain and improve the spectral efficiency of the system. In the first scheme, which is similar to conventional selection relaying, the relay decides independently whether to forward the source messages to the destination or not by comparing the instantaneous received signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) with a predetermined fixed threshold, which is independent of the instantaneous modulation scheme. In contrast, in the second scheme, the relay and the destination jointly decide whether the relay will participate in the second phase of the protocol or remain silent. This second scheme can be viewed as a combination of selection and incremental relaying and achieves higher spectral efficiency in comparison with its nonincremental counterparts. We evaluate the performance of the protocols in terms of the end-to-end BEP, the average spectral efficiency, and the outage probability for both identically and nonidentically distributed Rayleigh fading environments. In our analysis, we consider M-ary phase-shift keying ( M-PSK) modulation, M -ary pulse-amplitude modulation (M-PAM), and M-ary quadrature-amplitude modulation ( M-QAM) schemes and examine the impact of error propagation from the relay to the destination on the end-to-end performance of the system in detail. Moreover, we derive a closed-form expression for the optimal relaying threshold that effectively mitigates error propagation and minimizes the end-to-end BEP of the system. The high-SNR analysis demons- rates that both proposed schemes provide full diversity.