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Time-of-flight (TOF) positron emission tomography (PET) scanners offer the potential for significantly improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and lesion detectability in clinical PET. However, fully 3D TOF PET image reconstruction is a challenging task due to the huge data size. One solution to this problem is to rebin TOF data into a lower dimensional format. We have recently developed Fourier rebinning methods for mapping TOF data into non-TOF formats that retain substantial SNR advantages relative to sinograms acquired without TOF information. However, mappings for rebinning into non-TOF formats are not unique and optimization of rebinning methods has not been widely investigated. In this paper we address the question of optimal rebinning in order to make full use of TOF information. We focus on FORET-3D, which approximately rebins 3D TOF data into 3D non-TOF sinogram formats without requiring a Fourier transform in the axial direction. We optimize the weighting for FORET-3D to minimize the variance, resulting in H2-weighted FORET-3D, which turns out to be the best linear unbiased estimator (BLUE) under reasonable approximations and furthermore the uniformly minimum variance unbiased (UMVU) estimator under Gaussian noise assumptions. This implies that any information loss due to optimal rebinning is as a result only of the approximations used in deriving the rebinning equation and developing the optimal weighting. We demonstrate using simulated and real phantom TOF data that the optimal rebinning method achieves variance reduction and contrast recovery improvement compared to nonoptimized rebinning weightings. In our preliminary study using a simplified simulation setup, the performance of the optimal rebinning method was comparable to that of fully 3D TOF MAP.