Medical laser applications require knowledge about the optical properties of target tissue. In this study, the optical properties of selected native and coagulated human brain structures were determined in vitro in the spectral range between 360 and 1100 nm. The tissues investigated included white brain matter, grey brain matter, cerebellum and brainstem tissues (pons, thalamus). In addition, the optical properties of two human tumours (meningioma, astrocytoma WHO grade II) were determined. Diffuse reflectance, total transmittance and collimated transmittance of the samples were measured using an integrating-sphere technique. From these experimental data, the absorption coefficients, the scattering coefficients and the anisotropy factors of the samples were determined employing an inverse Monte Carlo technique. The tissues investigated differed from each other predominantly in their scattering properties. Thermal coagulation reduced the optical penetration depth substantially. The highest penetration depths for all tissues investigated were found in the wavelength range between 1000 and 1100 nm. A comparison with data from the literature revealed the importance of the employed tissue preparation technique and the impact of the theoretical model used to extract the optical coefficients from the measured quantities.