The need exists for a highly accurate, efficient and inexpensive tool to distinguish normal brain tissue from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and necrosis boundaries rapidly, in real-time, in the operating room. Raman spectroscopy provides a unique biochemical signature of a tissue type, with the potential to provide intraoperative identification of tumor and necrosis boundaries. We aimed to develop a database of Raman spectra from normal brain, GBM, and necrosis, and a methodology for distinguishing these pathologies. Raman spectroscopy was used to measure 95 regions from 40 frozen tissue sections using 785 nm excitation wavelength. Review of adjacent hematoxylin and eosin sections confirmed histology of each region. Three regions each of normal grey matter, necrosis, and GBM were selected as a training set. Ten regions were selected as a validation set, with a secondary validation set of tissue regions containing freeze artifact. Grey matter contained higher lipid (1061, 1081 cm(-1)) content, whereas necrosis revealed increased protein and nucleic acid content (1003, 1206, 1239, 1255-1266, 1552 cm(-1)). GBM fell between these two extremes. Discriminant function analysis showed 99.6, 97.8, and 77.5% accuracy in distinguishing tissue types in the training, validation, and validation with freeze artifact datasets, respectively. Decreased classification in the freeze artifact group was due to tissue preparation damage. This study shows the potential of Raman spectroscopy to accurately identify normal brain, necrosis, and GBM as a tool to augment pathologic diagnosis. Future work will develop mapped images of diffuse glioma and neoplastic margins toward development of an intraoperative surgical tool.