Extant research shows that resources are significant to a firm's choice of alliance formation. We focus on an important form of intangible resource—firm reputation—and examine how it affects a firm's propensity to form alliances. We propose an inverted U-shaped relationship between a firm's reputation and its likelihood of alliance formation, resulting from the opposing mechanisms of opportunity and need. We also examine how this relationship may vary across two contingencies: (1) foreign and domestic firms; and (2) different levels of institutional development. Empirical analyses of China's venture capital (VC) industry provide support for our hypotheses. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.