The foaming behaviors of high-density polypropylene-nanoclay composites with intercalated and exfoliated nanoclay particles blown with carbon dioxide were examined via in situ observation of the foaming processes in a high-temperature/high-pressure view-cell. The intercalated nanoclay particles were 300-600 nm in length and 50-200 nm in thickness, while the exfoliated nanoclay particles were 100-200 nm in length and 1 nm in thickness. Contrary to common belief, it was discovered that intercalated nanoclay yielded higher cell density than exfoliated nanoclay despite its lower particle density. This was attributed to the higher tensile stresses generated around the larger and stiffer intercalated nanoclay particles, which led to increase in supersaturation level for cell nucleation. Also, the coupling agent used to exfoliate nanoclay would increase the affinity between polymer and surface of nanoclay particles. Consequently, the critical work needed for cell nucleation would be increased; pre-existing microvoids, which could act as seeds for cell nucleation, were also less likely to exist. Meanwhile, exfoliated nanoclay had better cell stabilization ability to prevent cell coalescence and cell coarsening. This investigation clarifies the roles of nanoclay in plastic foaming processes and provides guidance for the advancement of polymer nanocomposite foaming technology.