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We present an acquisition and reconstruction system for positron emission tomography (PET), to be used as a development tool for testing PET reconstruction algorithms and for detector characteristics studies. It is based on a transputer network and modular electronics: acquired data are stored in memories associated with parallel processors and offline data analysis is performed, allowing for fast comparison of performances of different reconstruction algorithms. Its simple architecture and low cost makes it an easy-to-use and convenient tool to test new detectors for PET applications. We introduce here some results obtained with two CdZnTe radiation detectors on a rotating ring, as a prototype example of a small-animal PET camera. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.