The past two decades have seen the development of many global university alliances. Some alliances have taken a bilateral form, others are multilateral. In a period of increasing competition among universities, such alliances represent a curious form of cooperation. They have become more common just as global competition for academic talent has been increasing, rankings of universities have become more sophisticated, and universities have sought to attract high fee-paying international students. When does cooperation make sense? What opportunities and risks do alliances present to their members? These questions are considered with reference to three global alliances: The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), Universitas 21 (U21), and the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). We conclude that multilateral, global university alliances represent valuable resources for ambitious, change-oriented university leaders.