This paper is part of a larger study investigating the meaning of, and appropriate procedures for, forecasting with imperfect models. (In the author’s opinion there is currently no satisfactory general theory and practice for doing so with complex nonlinear systems.) The focus of this paper is on initialisation of the forecast. At the heart of every forecasting scheme there is an inverse problem that translates observations of reality into an initial state, or ensemble of states, of the model. Inverse problems are divided into two classes depending on whether the underlying model of reality is that of a stochastic process or a (deterministic) dynamical process. The two classes have quite different formulations of their inverse problems and consequent solutions methods. This paper considers dynamical process models and their inverse problems, which will be referred to as the dynamically constrained inverse problem (DCIP) line. The interpretation and solutions of the DCIP line are investigated and new algorithms for solving them are presented. The new algorithms are modifications of classical gradient descent algorithms. The new algorithms are applied to a low-dimensional chaotic system and a high-dimensional operational weather forecasting model. Our examination of DCIP shows that gradient descent algorithms are an effective way of solving the inverse problem for complex nonlinear system given an imperfect dynamical model.