Background In recent years, capabilities for genotyping large sets of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) has increased considerably with the ability to genotype over 1 million SNP markers across the genome. This advancement in technology has led to an increase in the number of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for various complex traits. These GWAS have resulted in the implication of over 1500 SNPs associated with disease traits. However, the SNPs identified from these GWAS are not necessarily the functional variants. Therefore, the next phase in GWAS will involve the refining of these putative loci. Methodology A next step for GWAS would be to catalog all variants, especially rarer variants, within the detected loci, followed by the association analysis of the detected variants with the disease trait. However, sequencing a locus in a large number of subjects is still relatively expensive. A more cost effective approach would be to sequence a portion of the individuals, followed by the application of genotype imputation methods for imputing markers in the remaining individuals. A potentially attractive alternative option would be to impute based on the 1000 Genomes Project; however, this has the drawbacks of using a reference population that does not necessarily match the disease status and LD pattern of the study population. We explored a variety of approaches for carrying out the imputation using a reference panel consisting of sequence data for a fraction of the study participants using data from both a candidate gene sequencing study and the 1000 Genomes Project. Conclusions Imputation of genetic variation based on a proportion of sequenced samples is feasible. Our results indicate the following sequencing study design guidelines which take advantage of the recent advances in genotype imputation methodology: Select the largest and most diverse reference panel for sequencing and genotype as many “anchor” markers as possible.