The combination of Fourier rebinning (FORE) and the ordered subsets expectation-maximization (OSEM), a fast statistical algorithm, appears as a promising alternative to the fully three-dimensional (3-D) iterative approach for clinical positron emission tomography (PET) data. In this paper, we evaluated the properties of FORE+OSEM and compared it with fully 3-D OSEM using both simulations and data acquired by commercial scanners. The aim is to determine to what extent the speed advantage of FORE+OSEM is paid for by a possible degradation of image quality in the case of noisy clinical PET data. A forward- and back-projection pair based on a line integral model was used in two-dimensional OSEM and 3-D OSEM (3D-OSEM) instead of a system matrix. Different variants of both approaches have been studied with simulations in terms of contrast-noise tradeoff. Two variants--FORE+OSEM with attenuation weighting (AW) [FORE+OSEM(AW)] and 3D-OSEM with attenuation-normalization weighting (ANSP) and a shifted-Poisson (SP) model [3D-OSEM(ANSP)]--were compared with measured phantom data and patient data. Based on the results from both simulations and measured data, we conclude that: 1) both attenuation (-normalization) weighting and the SP model improve the image quality but slow down the convergence and 2) despite its approximate nature, FORE+OSEM does not show apparent image degradation compared with 3D-OSEM for data with a noise level typical of a whole-body FDG scan.