The optical properties of tumor tissue provide important information for optimizing treatment plans in photodynamic therapy, especially when interstitial application by multiple fibers is planned. Near infrared light, required to activate novel photosensitizers, should facilitate improved light penetrance of tumor tissue compared with 630 nm light used for activating Photofrin II. We have measured light energy fluence rates for 630 and 789 nm light along radial tracks from a single laterally diffusing optical fiber centrally implanted into Dunning R3327-AT and R3327-H rat prostate tumors in anesthetized rats. A total of 20 R3327-AT and 10 R3327-H tumors were used in this study with volumes from 2.6 to 13.3 cm3. Light track data were analyzed by an empirical model that described light attenuation. At 630 nm, light attenuation coefficients (LAC) were approximately 1.9 x higher than those at 789 nm for both tumors with the well-differentiated, well-perfused tumor (R3327-H) attenuating to a greater extent than did the rapidly growing anaplastic tumor (R3327-AT). The intertumor variation of LAC was greater than the spatial variations observed within individual tumors. LAC were a function of tumor volume for only 630 nm light in the R3327-AT tumors.