We investigated the reproductive outcomes of male and female mating tactics in the spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta, a female–dominated social carnivore with high maternal investment, an absence of paternal care and female control over copulation. Paternity was determined using microsatellite profiling of 236 offspring in 171 litters from three clans. We found little evidence that male tactics that sought to coerce or monopolize females were successful. Polyandry and sperm competition appeared to counter effectively pre–copulatory male tactics, such as harassment, monopolization and other tactics, such as infanticide, that were against the evolutionary interests of females, and may have contributed to the stability of the male dominance hierarchy, which operated as a social queue. At least 39% of 54 females mated multiply, and 35% of 75 twin litters were fathered by two sires. Polyandry may also serve to ensure fertilization, compensate for an initial poor–quality mate or ensure fertilization by genetically compatible mates. Female mate choice matched observed patterns of affiliative male–female behaviour, indicating that affiliative behaviour is a successful male mating tactic, and was consistent with the idea that male tenure may serve as an index of male quality, although male fertility may decline with extreme old age.