In a simulation study different designs for a pure line pig population were compared for efficiency of mapping QTL using the variance component method. Phenotypes affected by a Mendelian QTL, a paternally expressed QTL, a maternally expressed QTL or by a QTL without an effect were simulated. In all alternative designs 960 progeny were phenotyped. Given the limited number of animals there is an optimum between the number of families and the family size. Estimation of Mendelian and parentally expressed QTL is more efficient in a design with large family sizes. Too small a number of sires should be avoided to minimize chances of sires to be non-segregating. When a large number of families is used, the number of haplotypes increases which reduces the accuracy of estimating the QTL effect and thereby reduces the power to show a significant QTL and to correctly position the QTL. Dense maps allow for smaller family size due to exploitation of LD-information. Given the different possible modes of inheritance of the QTL using 8 to 16 boars, two litters per dam was optimal with respect to determining significance and correct location of the QTL for a data set consisting of 960 progeny. The variance component method combining linkage disequilibrium and linkage analysis seems to be an appropriate choice to analyze data sets which vary in marker density and which contain complex family structures.