The uptake of genomic selection (GS) by the swine industry is still limited by the costs of genotyping. A feasible alternative to overcome this challenge is to genotype animals using an affordable low-density (LD) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chip panel followed by accurate imputation to a high-density panel. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to screen incremental densities of LD panels in order to systematically identify one that balances the tradeoffs among imputation accuracy, prediction accuracy of genomic estimated breeding values (GEBVs), and genotype density (directly associated with genotyping costs). Genotypes using the Illumina Porcine60K BeadChip were available for 1378 Duroc (DU), 2361 Landrace (LA) and 3192 Yorkshire (YO) pigs. In addition, pseudo-phenotypes (de-regressed estimated breeding values) for five economically important traits were provided for the analysis. The reference population for genotyping imputation consisted of 931 DU, 1631 LA and 2103 YO animals and the remainder individuals were included in the validation population of each breed. A LD panel of 3000 evenly spaced SNPs (LD3K) yielded high imputation accuracy rates: 93.78% (DU), 97.07% (LA) and 97.00% (YO) and high correlations (>0.97) between the predicted GEBVs using the actual 60 K SNP genotypes and the imputed 60 K SNP genotypes for all traits and breeds. The imputation accuracy was influenced by the reference population size as well as the amount of parental genotype information available in the reference population. However, parental genotype information became less important when the LD panel had at least 3000 SNPs. The correlation of the GEBVs directly increased with an increase in imputation accuracy. When genotype information for both parents was available, a panel of 300 SNPs (imputed to 60 K) yielded GEBV predictions highly correlated (⩾0.90) with genomic predictions obtained based on the true 60 K panel, for all traits and breeds. For a small reference population size with no parents on reference population, it is recommended the use of a panel at least as dense as the LD3K and, when there are two parents in the reference population, a panel as small as the LD300 might be a feasible option. These findings are of great importance for the development of LD panels for swine in order to reduce genotyping costs, increase the uptake of GS and, therefore, optimize the profitability of the swine industry.