The shuttle walk test (SWT) is a validated, incremental walking test for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but not for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The measurement of maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) is considered to be the gold standard measurement of functional capacity. This study examines the relationship between IPF patients' performance on the SWT and VO2 max. Twenty patients were recruited for the study, which consisted of two separate experiments. Firstly, the relationship between SWT performance on a conventional corridor SWT, with that on a programmable treadmill SWT designed to reproduce the corridor SWT was examined (n=10). In the second experiment, the relationship between performance on the treadmill equivalent SWT and VO2 max measurements was studied (n=10). There was a significant correlation between distance walked on the corridor SWT, and that walked on the treadmill equivalent SWT without VO2 max measurements (367 m vs. 410 m) (r=0.91, P=0.0003). There was a significant correlation between distance walked on the treadmill equivalent SWT (277 m), and the directly determined VO2 max (14.87 ml/kg/min) (r=0.74, P=0.01). During both experiments, a significant correlation was also observed between baseline PaO2 and SWT performance, and between DLCO and SWT performance. The shuttle walk test is a simple objective measure of functional capacity in IPF patients, which should facilitate the evaluation of new therapeutic compounds for IPF.