3D particle imaging velocimetry (3D-PIV) aims to recover the flow field in a volume of fluid, which has been seeded with tracer particles and observed from multiple camera viewpoints. The first step of 3D-PIV is to reconstruct the 3D locations of the tracer particles from synchronous views of the volume. We propose a new method for iterative particle reconstruction, in which the locations and intensities of all particles are inferred in one joint energy minimization. The energy function is designed to penalize deviations between the reconstructed 3D particles and the image evidence, while at the same time aiming for a sparse set of particles. We find that the new method, without any post-processing, achieves significantly cleaner particle volumes than a conventional, tomographic MART reconstruction, and can handle a wide range of particle densities. The second step of 3D-PIV is to then recover the dense motion field from two consecutive particle reconstructions. We propose a variational model, which makes it possible to directly include physical properties, such as incompressibility and viscosity, in the estimation of the motion field. To further exploit the sparse nature of the input data, we propose a novel, compact descriptor of the local particle layout. Hence, we avoid the memory-intensive storage of high-resolution intensity volumes. Our framework is generic and allows for a variety of different data costs (correlation measures) and regularizers. We quantitatively evaluate it with both the sum of squared differences and the normalized cross-correlation, respectively with both a hard and a soft version of the incompressibility constraint.