Objective Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is characterized by intermittent claudication, which interferes with walking and leads to worsening of functional capacity. This mechanism has not been clearly defined in PAD. Thus, the aim of our study was to identify the muscular metabolism and vascular function variables using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and their possible associations with functional capacity in individuals with PAD and secondly to verify the differences in these variables between persons with PAD and diabetes mellitus (DM) and those with PAD without DM. Methods A total of 39 participants with intermittent claudication were enrolled, 14 of whom had DM. They were assessed for functional capacity by the total distance covered in the treadmill test with the speed and grade constant and for muscle function and metabolism using near-infrared spectroscopy at rest and during the treadmill test. The Spearman correlation coefficient was computed to assess the presence of an association between the variables, and multiple linear regression analysis was performed, considering the total test distance as the dependent variable. The assessment between groups was performed using the independent t test or Mann-Whitney U test. Results The near-infrared spectroscopy variables related to tissue oxygen saturation in the test recovery phase were correlated with the functional performance during the treadmill test. Thus, those with a longer or slower recovery time and those with greater tissue deoxygenation had walked a shorter distance. A significant difference (P = .049) was noted between those with PAD stratified by DM in the reoxygenation time required for an occlusion. Conclusions These findings reinforce the hypothesis that peripheral factors related to vascular function and muscular metabolism can affect the walking capacity of persons with PAD and that microvascular dysfunction is more prevalent among those with PAD and DM.