PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of a 24-week walking with poles rehabilitation program with a traditional 24-week walking program on physical function in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD). METHODS: Patients with PAD (n = 103, age = 69.7 ± 8.9 years, anklebrachial in dex < 0.90 or evidence of calcified vessels) were randomized into a rehabilitation program of traditional walking (n = 52) or walking with poles (n = 51). Patients exercised 3 times per week for 24 weeks. Exercise endurance was measured by time walked on a constant work rate treadmill test at 6, 12, and 24 weeks. Perceived physical function was measured by the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 and Walking Impairment Questionnaire. Tissue oxygenation was measured using near-infrared spectroscopy. RESULTS: Patients assigned to the traditional walking group walked longer at 24 weeks than those assigned to the pole walking group (21.10 ± 17.07 minutes an d 15.02 ± 12.32 minutes, respectively, P = .037). There were no differences between the groups in tissue oxygenation. However, there was a significant lengthening of time for which it took to reach minimum tissue oxygenation values (P < .001) within the groups on the constant work rate test. There were no differences between the groups in perceived physical function as measured by the Physical Function subscale on the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 or perceived walking distance as measured by the Walking Distance subscale on the Walking Impairment Scale. CONCLUSIONS: Traditional walking was superior to walking with poles in increasing walking endurance on a constant work rate treadmill test for patients with PAD. Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.