The implicit dissipative generalized- α method is analyzed using discrete control theory. Based on this analysis, a one-parameter family of explicit direct integration algorithms with controllable numerical energy dissipation, referred to as the explicit KR-α method, is developed for linear and nonlinear structural dynamic numerical analysis applications. Stability, numerical dispersion, and energy dissipation characteristics of the proposed algorithms are studied. It is shown that the algorithms are unconditionally stable for linear elastic and stiffness softening-type nonlinear systems, where the latter indicates a reduction in post yield stiffness in the force–deformation response. The amount of numerical damping is controlled by a single parameter, which provides a measure of the numerical energy dissipation at higher frequencies. Thus, for a specific value of this parameter, the resulting algorithm is shown to produce no numerical energy dissipation. Furthermore, it is shown that the influence of the numerical damping on the lower mode response is negligible. It is further shown that the numerical dispersion and energy dissipation characteristics of the proposed explicit algorithms are the same as that of the implicit generalized- α method. A numerical example is presented to demonstrate the potential of the proposed algorithms in reducing participation of undesired higher modes by using numerical energy dissipation to damp out these modes. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.