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The cooperative communication approach promises improved throughput and delay performance by effective use of spatial diversity in wireless ad hoc networks. The CoopMAC I protocol proposed by Liu picks either a direct path or a relay path based on rate comparison to enhance average throughput and delay performances. However, its performance deteriorates under fading conditions due to lower direct path or relay path reliability. UtdMAC, which was proposed by Agarwal , performs better than CoopMAC I in terms of average throughput and delay performances due to improved transmission reliability provided by the backup relay path. Although it is better than CoopMAC I, UtdMAC does not fully benefit from higher throughput relay path (compared with the direct path) since it uses relay path only as a secondary backup path. In this paper, a new cooperative medium access control (MAC) protocol, which is termed the 2rcMAC protocol, is proposed for a small-sized network. The protocol makes use of two cooperating nodes to achieve superior throughput and delay performances, compared with the existing cooperative MAC protocols. The secondary relay path is invoked as a backup path for better transmission reliability and higher throughput through the relay path. Moreover, handshaking and single-bit feedbacks resolve contentions among relay nodes in proximity at the time and further provide the source node with rate information on source-to-destination, source-to-relay, and relay-to-destination links. Performance gains achieved by the 2rcMAC protocol under fast-fading conditions over the existing cooperative MAC protocols are compared and discussed. Simulation results clearly show an average throughput improvement of 7% and 25% and an average delay improvement of 94.8% and 98.9%, compared with UtdMAC and CoopMAC I, respectively.