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This study evaluated near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)-derived measurements in hemodynamically stable patients with severe sepsis, as compared with similar measurements in healthy age-matched volunteers. Prospective, preliminary, observational study in a surgical intensive care unit and clinical research center at a university health center. We enrolled 10 patients with severe sepsis and 9 healthy age-matched volunteers. For patients with severe sepsis, we obtained pulmonary artery catheter and laboratory values three times daily for 3 days and oxygen consumption values via metabolic cart once daily for 3 days. For healthy volunteers, we obtained all noninvasive measurements during a single session. We found lower values in patients with severe sepsis (versus healthy volunteers), in tissue oxygen saturation (StO2), in the StO2 recovery slope, in the tissue hemoglobin index, and in the total tissue hemoglobin increase on venous occlusion. Patients with severe sepsis had longer StO2 recovery times and lower NIRS-derived local oxygen consumption values versus healthy volunteers. In our preliminary study, NIRS provides a noninvasive continuous method to evaluate peripheral tissue oxygen metabolism in hemodynamically stable patients with severe sepsis. Further research is needed to demonstrate whether these values apply to broader populations of patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome, sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock.