PURPOSE: Proton computed tomography (pCT) is a promising imaging technique to substitute or at least complement x-ray CT for more accurate proton therapy treatment planning as it allows calculating directly proton relative stopping power from proton energy loss measurements. A proton CT scanner with a silicon-based particle tracking system and a five-stage scintillating energy detector has been completed. In parallel a modular software platform was developed to characterize the performance of the proposed pCT.METHOD: The modular pCT software platform consists of (1) a Geant4-based simulation modeling the Loma Linda proton therapy beam line and the prototype proton CT scanner, (2) water equivalent path length (WEPL) calibration of the scintillating energy detector, and (3) image reconstruction algorithm for the reconstruction of the relative stopping power (RSP) of the scanned object. In this work, each component of the modular pCT software platform is described and validated with respect to experimental data and benchmarked against theoretical predictions. In particular, the RSP reconstruction was validated with both experimental scans, water column measurements, and theoretical calculations.RESULTS: The results show that the pCT software platform accurately reproduces the performance of the existing prototype pCT scanner with a RSP agreement between experimental and simulated values to better than 1.5%.CONCLUSIONS: The validated platform is a versatile tool for clinical proton CT performance and application studies in a virtual setting. The platform is flexible and can be modified to simulate not yet existing versions of pCT scanners and higher proton energies than those currently clinically available.