We have measured the bulk optical properties of healthy female breast tissues in vivo in the parallel plate, transmission geometry. Fifty-two volunteers were measured. Blood volume and blood oxygen saturation were derived from the optical property data using a novel method that employed a priori spectral information to overcome limitations associated with simple homogeneous tissue models. The measurements provide an estimate of the variation of normal breast tissue optical properties in a fairly large population. The mean blood volume was 34 ± 9 μM and the mean blood oxygen saturation was 68 ± 8%. We also investigated the correlation of these optical properties with demographic factors such as body mass index (BMI) and age. We observed a weak correlation of blood volume and reduced scattering coefficient with BMI; correlation with age, however, was not evident within the statistical error of these experiments. The new information on healthy breast tissue provides insight about the potential contrasts available for diffuse optical tomography of breast tumours.