Scaling laws for the thrust production and energetics of self-propelled or fixed-velocity three-dimensional rigid propulsors undergoing pitching motions are presented. The scaling relations extend the two-dimensional scaling laws presented in Moored & Quinn (AIAA J., 2018, pp. 1–15) by accounting for the added mass of a finite-span propulsor, the downwash/upwash effects from the trailing vortex system of a propulsor and the elliptical topology of shedding trailing-edge vortices. The novel three-dimensional scaling laws are validated with self-propelled inviscid simulations and fixed-velocity experiments over a range of reduced frequencies, Strouhal numbers and aspect ratios relevant to bio-inspired propulsion. The scaling laws elucidate the dominant flow physics behind the thrust production and energetics of pitching bio-propulsors, and they provide guidance for the design of bio-inspired propulsive systems.