Learning vector quantization (LVQ) is a popular class of adaptive nearest prototype classifiers for multiclass classification, but learning algorithms from this family have so far been proposed on heuristic grounds. Here, we take a more principled approach and derive two variants of LVQ using a gaussian mixture ansatz. We propose an objective function based on a likelihood ratio and derive a learning rule using gradient descent. The new approach provides a way to extend the algorithms of the LVQ family to different distance measure and allows for the design of “soft” LVQ algorithms. Benchmark results show that the new methods lead to better classification performance than LVQ 2.1. An additional benefit of the new method is that model assumptions are made explicit, so that the method can be adapted more easily to different kinds of problems.