The applicability of optical spectroscopy for intraoperative detection of brain tumors/tumor margins was investigated in a pilot clinical trial consisting of 26 brain tumor patients. The results of this clinical trial suggest that brain tumors and infiltrating tumor margins (ITM) can be effectively separated from normal brain tissues in vivo using combined autofluorescence and diffuse-reflectance spectroscopy. A two-step empirical discrimination algorithm based on autofluorescence and diffuse reflectance at 460 and 625 nm was developed. This algorithm yields a sensitivity and specificity of 100 and 76%, respectively, in differentiating ITM from normal brain tissues. Blood contamination was found to be a major obstacle that attenuates the accuracy of brain tumor demarcation using optical spectroscopy. Overall, this study indicates that optical spectroscopy has the potential to guide brain tumor resection intraoperatively with high sensitivity.