An efficient scheme for the multiple-access multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) channel is proposed, which operates well also in the single user regime, as well as in a direct-sequence spread-spectrum (DS-CDMA) setting. The design features scalability and is of limited complexity. The system employs optimized low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes and an efficient iterative (belief propagation-BP) detection which combines linear minimum mean-square error (LMMSE) detection and iterative interference cancellation (IC). This combination is found to be necessary for efficient operation in high system loads α>1. An asymptotic density evolution (DE) is used to optimize the degree polynomials of the underlining LDPC code, and thresholds as close as 0.77 dB to the channel capacity are evident for a system load of 2. Replacing the LMMSE with the complex individually optimal multiuser detector (IO-MUD) further improves the performance up to 0.14 dB from the capacity. Comparing the thresholds of a good single-user LDPC code to the multiuser optimized LDPC code, both over the above multiuser channel, reveals a surprising 8-dB difference, emphasizing thus the necessity of optimizing the code. The asymptotic analysis of the proposed scheme is verified by simulations of finite systems, which reveal meaningful differences between the performances of MIMO systems with single and multiple users and demonstrate performance similar to previously reported techniques, but with higher system loads, and significantly lower receiver complexity.