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Indirect and direct methods have been developed for reconstructing parametric images from dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) data. Indirect methods are simple and easy to implement because reconstruction and kinetic modeling are performed in two separate steps. Direct methods estimate parametric images directly from dynamic PET sinograms and, in theory, can be statistically more efficient, but the algorithms are often difficult to implement and are very specific to the kinetic model being used. This paper presents a class of generalized algorithms for direct reconstruction of parametric images that are relatively easy to implement and can be adapted to different kinetic models. The proposed algorithms use optimization transfer principle to convert the maximization of a penalized likelihood into a pixel-wise weighted least squares (WLS) kinetic fitting problem at each iteration. Thus, it can employ existing WLS algorithms developed for kinetic models. The proposed algorithms resemble the empirical iterative implementation of the indirect approach, but converge to a solution of the direct formulation. Computer simulations showed that the proposed direct reconstruction algorithms are flexible and achieve a better bias-variance tradeoff than indirect reconstruction methods.