Purpose: A new method for accurately portraying the impact of low-dose imaging techniques in C-arm cone-beam CT (CBCT) is presented and validated, allowing identification of minimum-dose protocols suitable to a given imaging task on a patient-specific basis in scenarios that require repeat intraoperative scans. Method: To accurately simulate lower-dose techniques and account for object-dependent noise levels (x-ray quantum noise and detector electronics noise) and correlations (detector blur), noise of the proper magnitude and correlation was injected into the projections from an initial CBCT acquired at the beginning of a procedure. The resulting noisy projections were then reconstructed to yield low-dose preview (LDP) images that accurately depict the image quality at any level of reduced dose in both filtered backprojection and statistical image reconstruction. Validation studies were conducted on a mobile C-arm, with the noise injection method applied to images of an anthropomorphic head phantom and cadaveric torso across a range of lower-dose techniques. Results: Comparison of preview and real CBCT images across a full range of techniques demonstrated accurate noise magnitude (within ~5%) and correlation (matching noise-power spectrum, NPS). Other image quality characteristics (e.g., spatial resolution, contrast, and artifacts associated with beam hardening and scatter) were also realistically presented at all levels of dose and across reconstruction methods, including statistical reconstruction. Conclusion: Generating low-dose preview images for a broad range of protocols gives a useful method to select minimum-dose techniques that accounts for complex factors of imaging task, patient-specific anatomy, and observer preference. The ability to accurately simulate the influence of low-dose acquisition in statistical reconstruction provides an especially valuable means of identifying low-dose limits in a manner that does not rely on a model for the nonlinear reconstruction process or a model of observer performance.