This project proposes, a novel opportunistic spectrum sharing scheme, based on orthogonal frequency division multiplexing with index modulation (OFDM-IM), is proposed for cognitive radio (CR) networks. In the considered OFDM-IM based CR (OFDM-IM-CR) model, the primary transmitter (PT) communicates with the primary receiver with the aid of an amplified and forward (AF) relay by transmitting OFDM-IM signals. Meanwhile, the secondary transmitter (ST) passively senses the spectrum and transmits its own information over those inactive subcarriers of the primary network to the secondary receiver if the signal-to-noise ratio of the PT!ST link is above a predefined threshold; otherwise, the ST stays in silent mode. Two different types of maximum likelihood (ML) detectors are designed for the primary network, based on the knowledge of either the estimated channel state information or the statistical channel information of the secondary network. A complexity reducing method, which is applicable to both types and achieves near optimal performance, is further proposed. To evaluate the performance, a tight upper bound on the bit error rate (BER) is derived, assuming the first type of ML detection. Simulation results corroborate the analysis and show that OFDM-IM-CR has the potential of outperforming OFDM-CR and OFDM-IM-AF in terms of BER with higher spectral efficiency. This project is implemented with MATLAB software.