||Alliances among kin play a major role in a female's acquisition of her mother's dominance rank in many species of cercopithecines. It is noteworthy, however, that kin rarely form coalitions to challenge females from higher-ranking matrilines, and that matrilineal hierarchies are remarkably stable. One possible reason for the rarity of destabilizing coalitions is that members of high-ranking matrilines form alliances against lower ranking ones. In this paper the patterning of aggressive support among non-kin, and its effect on the stability of rank relations are analysed in a captive group of Japanese macaques, Macaca fuscata, composed of three unrelated matrilines. Analysis of the distribution of non-kin interventions in conflicts between matrilines over a 52-month period revealed a clear pattern of preferential support between the two dominant matrilines against the third-ranking one. This pattern was confirmed experimentally. Any member of the two dominant matrilines was unable, individually, to maintain its rank above the third-ranking matriline, but was able to do so in the presence of the other dominant matriline. Non-kin alliances appear to prevent subordinate females from challenging higher ranking females through revolutionary coalitions (formed among subordinates) or through bridging coalitions (formed among individuals ranking above and below the target). Non-kin support is interpreted in terms of cooperation versus reciprocal altruism.