The primal–dual optimization algorithm developed in Chambolle and Pock (CP) (2011 J. Math. Imag. Vis. 40 1–26) is applied to various convex optimization problems of interest in computed tomography (CT) image reconstruction. This algorithm allows for rapid prototyping of optimization problems for the purpose of designing iterative image reconstruction algorithms for CT. The primal–dual algorithm is briefly summarized in this paper, and its potential for prototyping is demonstrated by explicitly deriving CP algorithm instances for many optimization problems relevant to CT. An example application modeling breast CT with low-intensity x-ray illumination is presented.