Aim To evaluate muscle haemodynamics and oxygen metabolism in adults with cerebral palsy (CP) at rest and during exercise. Method This cross-sectional study included 12 adults with spastic CP (four females, eight males; mean age [SD] 29 years 6 months [7 years 10.8 months]) and 13 typically developing individuals (seven females, six males; mean age [SD] 26 years 6 months [1 year 1.9 months]). Near-infrared spectroscopy was used to assess changes in muscle blood flow (mBF), muscle oxygen consumption (mVO2), and muscle oxygen saturation in the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris muscles during three conditions: rest, low load at 20% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC), and high load at 80% MVC. Results MBF was lower in participants with CP than in typically developing participants at rest (p textless 0.001) and at 20% MVC (p = 0.007) in both muscles. Increased load caused a reduction in mBF in typically developing participants and an increase in CP. MVO2 in typically developing participants increased from rest to 20% MVC and was reduced at 80% MVC compared with 20% MVC. In participants with CP, there was no change with load in the rectus femoris muscle; however, there was an increase in the vastus lateralis muscle from rest to 20% MVC, and 80% MVC had a similar value. Muscle saturation was higher in participants with CP across all conditions (vastus lateralis, p textless 0.001; rectus femoris, p = 0.0518). Interpretation Oxidative metabolism in CP is not limited by oxygen delivery (mBF), because high muscle saturation suggests oxygen availability. Adults with CP demonstrate muscular responses to exercise that are inconsistent with typical high-workload activation, probably because of inefficient fibre recruitment and secondary anomalies.