Purpose. This study explored the effects of unstable shoe design on oxygen consumption. Methods. Oxygen consumption (VO2) and heart rate (HR) were measured in 16 individuals while barefoot, wearing unstable shoes (Masai Barefoot Technology) and wearing conventional sport shoes while standing and walking on a treadmill and for 5 individuals while walking around a 400 m track. Results. When wearing the MBT shoes, a significant (p < 0.01) increase of 9.3 ± 5.2% in VO2 was measured while standing quietly for 6 min. No differences in VO2 and HR were observed between the MBT shoes or weight-adjusted conventional shoes (to match the weight of the MBT shoes) while walking on a treadmill. However, significant increases (p < 0.01) in VO2 (4.4 ± 8.2%) and HR (3.6 ± 7.3%) were observed for the MBT shoes compared with being barefoot. No significant differences in VO2 and HR were recorded while walking around a 400 m track either with MBT shoes, weight-adjusted conventional shoes or barefoot. Nonetheless, a comparison of the MBT shoes with barefoot revealed a tendency for VO2 to be higher when wearing the MBT shoes (7.1 ± 6.5%, p < 0.1) although HR was not significantly affected. Conclusions. The unstable shoe design predominantly effects oxygen consumption while standing, most likely due to increased muscle activity of the lower extremities.