Base station cooperation is an attractive way of increasing the spectral efficiency in multiantenna communication. By serving each terminal through several base stations in a given area, intercell interference can be coordinated and higher performance achieved, especially for terminals at cell edges. Most previous work in the area has assumed that base stations have common knowledge of both data dedicated to all terminals and full or partial channel state information (CSI) of all links. Herein, we analyze the case of distributed cooperation where each base station has only local CSI, either instantaneous or statistical. In the case of instantaneous CSI, the beamforming vectors that can attain the outer boundary of the achievable rate region are characterized for an arbitrary number of multiantenna transmitters and single-antenna receivers. This characterization only requires local CSI and justifies distributed precoding design based on a novel virtual signal-to-interference noise ratio (SINR) framework, which can handle an arbitrary SNR and achieves the optimal multiplexing gain. The local power allocation between terminals is solved heuristically. Conceptually, analogous results for the achievable rate region characterization and precoding design are derived in the case of local statistical CSI. The benefits of distributed cooperative transmission are illustrated numerically, and it is shown that most of the performance with centralized cooperation can be obtained using only local CSI.