RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential of photon-counting CT (PCCT) to improve quantitative image quality for low dose imaging compared to energy-integrating detector CT (EID CT). MATERIALS AND METHODS: An investigational scanner (Siemens, Germany) with PCCT and EID CT subsystems was used to compare image quality performance at four dose levels: 1.7, 2, 4, 6 mGy CTDIvol, all at or below current dose values used for conventional abdominal CT. A CT quality control phantom with a homogeneous section for noise measurements and a section with cylindrical inserts of air (-910 HU), polystyrene (50 HU), acrylic (205 HU), and Teflon (1000 HU) was imaged and characterized in terms of noise, resolution, contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), and detectability index. A second phantom with a 30 cm diameter was also imaged containing iodine solutions ranging from 0.125 to 8 mg I/mL. CNR of the iodine vials was computed as a function of CT dose and iodine concentration. RESULTS: With resolution unaffected by dose in both PCCT and EID CT, PCCT images exhibited 22.1-24.0% improvement in noise across dose levels evaluated. This noise improvement translated into a 29-41% improvement in CNR and 20-36% improvement in detectability index. For iodine contrast, PCCT images had a higher CNR for all combinations of iodine contrast and dose evaluated. CONCLUSION: For the conditions studied, PCCT exhibited superior image quality compared to EID CT. For iodine detection, PCCT offered a notable advantage with improved CNR at all doses and iodine concentration levels.