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In this paper, we present an iterative joint channel-estimation and data-detection technique for multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) code-division multiple-access (CDMA) systems over Rayleigh fading channels. The proposed receiver performs channel estimation and data detection using the expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm. We derive a closed-form expression for the optimized weight coefficients of the EM algorithm, which is shown to provide large performance improvement relative to the conventional equal-weight EM-based signal decomposition. Our results show that the receiver can achieve near-optimum performance with modest complexity using very few training symbols. Furthermore, our simulation results confirm that the proposed receiver is near-far resistant and offers fast convergence in severe near-far scenarios.