The detection of interactions between light and tissue can be used to characterize the optical properties of the tissue. The development is described of a method that determines optical coefficients of biological tissue from a single optical reflectance spectrum measured with an integrating-sphere. The experimental system incorporated a DH-2000 deuterium tungsten halogen light source, a USB4000-VIS-NIR miniature fiber optic spectrometer and an integrating-sphere. Fat emulsion and ink were used to mimic the scattering and absorbing properties of tissue in the tested sample. The measured optical reflectance spectrums with different scattering and absorbing properties were used to train a back-propagation neural network (BPNN). Then the neural network (BPNN) was used to determine the optical coefficients of biological tissue from a single optical reflectance spectrum measured with an integrating-sphere. Tests on tissue-simulation phantoms showed the relative errors of this technique to be 7% for the reduced scattering coefficient and 15% for the absorption coefficients. The optical properties of human skin were also measured in vivo.