The front collimator surface of a conventional single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) detector system transcribing an elliptical orbit to approximate body contour could, under certain circumstances, penetrate the ellipse and make patient contact. The problem is associated both with the large front surface dimensions of tomographic cameras and the need to maintain the camera perpendicular to a radius through the axis of rotation. To aid in the development of an improved body contour orbit, software has been developed to simulate SPECT imaging systems. A major feature of the algorithms is a spatially calibrated graphic representation of the pallet, patient and orbit of the camera head. Based on computer simulations performed with this software, a modified elliptical orbit has been proposed for patient contour SPECT scanning on two different types of tomographic acquisition systems: a dual camera, rotating ring system and a single camera, multimotion stand system. This peanut orbit has the advantage of minimizing collimator patient distance, as does the elliptical orbit, but also compensates for camera motion that could potentially produce patient contact. Versions of the peanut orbit algorithms have been installed and are operational on clinical systems similar to those that were simulated. The ring-based gantry system (with cameras mounted on cantilevered arms) requires additional software to correct for translational shift in the field of view as a function of radial distance from the center of the system. This is done during uniformity correction. Standard unmodified backprojection software is used for reconstruction. The peanut orbit may represent an improved approach to body contour imaging in rotational SPECT.