This study investigated the use of an incremental, externally-paced 10 m shuttle walk test (SWT) as an objective, reliable and predictive test of functional capacity in patients with heart failure (CHF). The SWT was compared to a 6 minute walk test (6WT) and a maximal symptom-limited treadmill peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) test. Experiment 1 examined the reproducibility of the SWT. Two SWF trials were performed and distance ambulated (DA), heart rate (HR) and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) results compared. In experiment 2, SWT, 6WT, and VO2 peak tests were performed and HR. RPE and ambulatory VO2 compared. The SWT demonstrated strong test/retest reliability for DA (r = 0.98). HR (r = 0.96) and RPE (r = 0.89). Treadmill VO2 peak was significantly correlated with DA during the SWT (r = 0.83, P < 0.05), but not the 6WT. SWT peak VO2 (18.5 +/- 1.8 ml.kg(-1) x min(-1)) and treadmill VO2 peak (18.3 +/-2.0 ml.kg(-1) x min(-1)) were also highly correlated (r = 0.78, P < 0.05). Conversely, 6WT peak VO2 and treadmill VO2 peak were not significantly correlated. This study suggests the SWT is a reliable, objective test, highly predictive of VO2 peak which may be a more optimal field exercise test than the self paced 6WT.