The adaptive single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) system studied here acquires an initial scout image to obtain preliminary information about the object. Then the configuration is adjusted by selecting the size of the pinhole and the magnification that optimize system performance on an ensemble of virtual objects generated to be consistent with the scout data. In this study the object is a lumpy background that contains a Gaussian signal with a variable width and amplitude. The virtual objects in the ensemble are imaged by all of the available configurations and the subsequent images are evaluated with the scanning linear estimator to obtain an estimate of the signal width and amplitude. The ensemble mean squared error (EMSE) on the virtual ensemble between the estimated and the true parameters serves as the performance figure of merit for selecting the optimum configuration. The results indicate that variability in the original object background, noise and signal parameters leads to a specific optimum configuration in each case. A statistical study carried out for a number of objects show that the adaptive system on average performs better than its nonadaptive counterpart.