Abstract Regional and global city-to-city (C2C) relationships have experienced recent increases in numbers and activities. Research into the perceived benefits of and key elements that make C2C relationships successful have been lacking. This paper reviews Asian C2C cooperation and analyses how urban managers perceive this modality in terms of the key elements for success and the functional areas it is best used. The analysis is based upon a survey of local governments in Asian countries. The findings suggest that governments consider four features critical to successful C2C collaboration including: free flows of information, reciprocity, understanding and leadership. At the same time, local governmental decision makers did not see community participation as an important element in C2C success. In terms of areas where C2C is most applicable, local governments in Asia identified the areas of environment, health and education and cultural issues. Urban infrastructure also received support. Asian managers, however, found C2C cooperation less applicable in the areas of gender empowerment and poverty reduction, housing and shelter, municipal finance and economic development. Results were somewhat mixed for security and disaster management. These results suggest that C2C has important, but limited usefulness in a region where community participation in increasingly seen as vital to good governance and poverty reduction, gender and economic development are high priority areas.