In multi-hop wireless networks where links are prone to be broken or degraded, it is important to guarantee the network connectivity as well as satisfy the performance requirements. Observing the promising features of Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) techniques for improving the transmission capacity and reliability, in this paper, we make the very first attempt to deploy MIMO nodes as relays to assist weak links in wireless networks, with the aim of reducing the number of relay nodes and providing performance provisioning. We identify the specific constraints of MIMO relay nodes for assisting weak links, and take advantage of the MIMO ability to flexibly select among different transmission strategies. The constrains and flexibility, however, make the MIMO deployment problem different from conventional single-antenna deployment schemes and much more challenging. Based on the constraints, we formulate the MIMO relay deployment problem, and provide a polynomial-time approximation scheme (PTAS) algorithm, as well as a distributed heuristic algorithm. The performance of the proposed algorithms is evaluated through simulations and demonstrated to be very effective. © 2012 IEEE.