The evolution of altruistic behavior through group selection is generally viewed as possible in theory but unlikely in reality, because individual selection favoring selfish strategies should act more rapidly than group selection favoring cooperation. Here we demonstrate the evolution of altruism, in the form of conditional reproductive restraint based on an explicitly social mechanism, modulated by intrapopulation communication comprising signal and evolved response, in a spatially distributed predatory/parasitic/pathogenic model system. The predatory species consistently comes to exploit a signal implying overcrowding, individuals constraining their reproduction in response, with a corresponding increase in equilibrium reproduction rate in the absence of signal. This signaled restraint arises in a robust way for a range of model spatial systems; it outcompetes non-signal-based restraint and is not vulnerable to subversion by noncooperating variants. In these systems, communication is used to evaluate population density and regulate reproduction accordingly, consistent with central ideas of Wynne-Edwards [Wynne-Edwards, V. C. (1962) Animal Dispersion in Relation to Social Behavior (Hafner, New York)], whose claims about the evolutionary importance of group selection helped ignite decades of controversy. This quantitative simulation model shows how the key evolutionary transition from solitary living to sociality can occur. The process described here of cooperation evolving through communication may also help to explain other major evolutionary transitions such as intercellular communication leading to multicellular organisms.