Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a non-invasive method to monitor cerebral haemodynamics. Used either alone or in combination with other non-invasive methods such as transcranial Doppler sonography, this technique is well suited for use in cerebrovascular research in ageing. Reproducibility of NIRS, however, has only been determined in neonates and adults. We applied controlled desaturation (the O2-method) to measure the cerebral blood volume (CBV) with NIRS in 16 healthy subjects aged 65 to 88. This method uses deoxygenated haemoglobin (the concentration of which is manipulated by desaturation) as an intravascular tracer for NIRS. We determined repeatability (between tests interval: 2 min), short-term reproducibility (intervals of 20 and 40 min) and long-term reproducibility (interval > 2 weeks). We found a coefficient of variation (CV) of 12.5% for repeatability and a CV of 11.7% for short-term reproducibility. The CV for long-term reproducibility was 15%. We conclude that NIRS can reproducibly measure CBV in subjects aged 65 and older, using the O2-method. In this group of healthy subjects, this method was well tolerated. © 2006 IOP Publishing Ltd.