A new algorithm has been developed for the estimation of tropospheric microwave path delays from water vapor radiometer (WVR) data, which does not require site and weather dependent empirical parameters to produce accuracy better than 0.3 cm of delay. Instead of taking the conventional linear approach, the new algorithm first uses the observables with an emission model to determine an approximate form of the vertical water vapor distribution, which is then explicitly integrated to estimate wet path delays in a second step. The intrinsic accuracy of this algorithm, excluding uncertainties caused by the radiometers and the emission model, has been examined for two channel WVR data using path delays and corresponding simulated observables computed from archived radiosonde data. It is found that annual rms errors for a wide range of sites average 0.18 cm in the absence of clouds, 0.22 cm in cloudy weather, and 0.19 cm overall. In clear weather, the new algorithm's accuracy is comparable to the best that can be obtained from conventional linear algorithms, while in cloudy weather it offers a 35% improvement.