Lutfiyar Imanov started his career in the arts as a teenage actor at the Sabirabad State Drama Theatre. He graduated from the Asaf Zeynally Music College with a degree in vocal arts in 1957. At the time, he had been working with various Azerbaijani choirs and orchestras. He made his operatic debut in 1957 when he performed in the leading role in Uzeyir Hajibeyov's opera Koroghlu in Moscow. Upon graduating, he accepted a job at the Azerbaijan State Theatre of Musical Comedy before switching in 1959 to the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre where he worked until his death. In 1962, he was admitted to the six-year program in drama studies at the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts. In 1965 and 1975 respectively, Imanov was an intern at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and La Scala in Milan. From 1968 onward, he performed leading roles in over 30 operas.
Besides performing, he taught vocal arts, mostly at the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire, but also in music schools in Istanbul and İzmir, Turkey (1991–95). In the 1990s, he toured Iran, Italy, United Kingdom and Germany. His performance was recognised by him being awarded the prestigious title of the People's Artist of the Soviet Union in 1977.