This article analyses the practice of Mediterranean States with regard to search and rescue (SAR) operations that has repeatedly given rise to much dispute. Its particular focus is on the existing disagreements concerning the interpretation and implementation of international obligations. Mediterranean States diverge on the modalities for managing SAR zones, and on the obligations of the state in whose SAR zone the rescue operation took place. The article also examines the existing attempts at cooperation and coordination among Mediterranean States and the systems of exchange of information and means created by the European Union (EU). The impact of SAR zones and activities on the relations between Mediterranean States are considered in the light of the analysis of state practice. It finds that SAR operations can be both an opportunity for cooperation as well as a source of conflict.