The objective of this research was to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and to develop an Illumina Infinium BeadChip that contained over 50,000 SNPs from soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.). A total of 498,921,777 reads 35-45 bp in length were obtained from DNA sequence analysis of reduced representation libraries from several soybean accessions which included six cultivated and two wild soybean (G. soja Sieb. et Zucc.) genotypes. These reads were mapped to the soybean whole genome sequence and 209,903 SNPs were identified. After applying several filters, a total of 146,161 of the 209,903 SNPs were determined to be ideal candidates for Illumina Infinium II BeadChip design. To equalize the distance between selected SNPs, increase assay success rate, and minimize the number of SNPs with low minor allele frequency, an iteration algorithm based on a selection index was developed and used to select 60,800 SNPs for Infinium BeadChip design. Of the 60,800 SNPs, 50,701 were targeted to euchromatic regions and 10,000 to heterochromatic regions of the 20 soybean chromosomes. In addition, 99 SNPs were targeted to unanchored sequence scaffolds. Of the 60,800 SNPs, a total of 52,041 passed Illumina's manufacturing phase to produce the SoySNP50K iSelect BeadChip. Validation of the SoySNP50K chip with 96 landrace genotypes, 96 elite cultivars and 96 wild soybean accessions showed that 47,337 SNPs were polymorphic and generated successful SNP allele calls. In addition, 40,841 of the 47,337 SNPs (86%) had minor allele frequencies ≥ 10% among the landraces, elite cultivars and the wild soybean accessions. A total of 620 and 42 candidate regions which may be associated with domestication and recent selection were identified, respectively. The SoySNP50K iSelect SNP beadchip will be a powerful tool for characterizing soybean genetic diversity and linkage disequilibrium, and for constructing high resolution linkage maps to improve the soybean whole genome sequence assembly.