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We present a low-complexity algorithm based on reactive tabu search (RTS) for near maximum likelihood (ML) detection in large-MIMO systems. The conventional RTS algorithm achieves near-ML performance for 4-QAM in large-MIMO systems. But its performance for higher-order QAM is far from ML performance. Here, we propose a random-restart RTS (R3TS) algorithm which achieves significantly better bit error rate (BER) performance compared to that of the conventional RTS algorithm in higher-order QAM. The key idea is to run multiple tabu searches, each search starting with a random initial vector and choosing the best among the resulting solution vectors. A criterion to limit the number of searches is also proposed. Computer simulations show that the R3TS algorithm achieves almost the ML performance in 16 × 16 V-BLAST MIMO system with 16-QAM and 64-QAM at significantly less complexities than the sphere decoder. Also, in a 32 × 32 V-BLAST MIMO system, the R3TS performs close to ML lower bound within 1.6 dB for 16-QAM (128 bps/Hz), and within 2.4 dB for 64-QAM (192 bps/Hz) at 10-3 BER.