The conditions under which negotiation or mediation are chosen in international conflict have been little studied. Previous research has tended to focus on the motivations and rational calculations of the states involved. Scant attention has been given to examining the effect of the context on this choice. In this article, we present a framework for studying the contextual conditions under which negotiation or mediation are likely to take place. Employing an original data set, we find that negotiation tends to be used when conflicts are relatively simple, of a low intensity, and when both parties are relatively equal in power. Mediation, on the other band, tends to be used in disputes characterized by high complexity, high intensity, long duration, unequal and fractionated parties, and where the willingness of the parties to settle peacefully is in doubt.