Abstract We present a general model for the Continuous Prisoner's Dilemma and study the effect of errors. We find that cooperative strategies that can resist invasion by defectors are optimistic (make high initial offers), generous (always offer more cooperation than the partner did in the previous round) and uncompromising (offer full cooperation only if the partner does). A necessary condition for the emergence of cooperation in the continuous Prisoner's Dilemma with noise is b (1− p)> c, where b and c denote, respectively, the benefit and cost of cooperation, while p is the error rate. This relation can be reformulated as an error threshold: cooperation can only emerge if the probability of making a mistake is below a critical value. We note, however, that cooperation in the continuous Prisoner's Dilemma with noise does not seem to be evolutionarily stable: while it is possible to find cooperative strategies that resist invasion by defectors, such cooperators are generally invaded by more cooperative strategies which eventually yield to defectors. Thus, the long-term evolution of the continuous Prisoner's Dilemma is either characterized by unending cycles or by stable polymorphisms of cooperators and defectors.