We present Keck K-band photometry and low-resolution H- and K-band spectroscopy of the X-ray nova GRO J0422+32 obtained while the system was in the quiescent state. No clear ellipsoidal modulation is present in the light curve, which is instead dominated by a strong flickering component. In the K band, we observe strong Br gamma emission, with an equivalent width of 38 +/- 5 angstrom. From this, we conclude that the accretion disc is the most likely source of the observed photometric contamination, and that previous infrared-based attempts to constrain the mass of the putative black hole in this system are prone to considerable uncertainty. We finally proceed to show how it is possible to place meaningful constraints on some of the binary parameters of this system, even in the presence of a relatively high level of contamination from the disc..