Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was initiated in 1977 by Jobsis as a simple, noninvasive method for measuring the presence of oxygen in muscle and other tissues in vivo. This review honoring Jobsis highlights the progress that has been made in developing and adapting NIRS and NIR imaging (NIRI) technologies for evaluating skeletal muscle dynamics and oxidative energy metabolism. Development of NIRS/NIRI technologies has included novel approaches to quantification of the signal, as well as the addition of multiple source detector pairs for imaging. Adaptation of NIRS technology has focused on the validity and reliability of NIRS measurements. NIRS measurements have been extended to resting, ischemic, localized exercise, and whole body exercise conditions. In addition, NIRS technology has been applied to the study of a number of chronic health conditions, including patients with chronic heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, varying muscle diseases, spinal cord injury, and renal failure. As NIRS technology continues to evolve, the study of skeletal muscle function with NIRS first illuminated by Jobsis continues to be bright.