We present near-infrared spectroscopy measurement of absolute cerebral hemoglobin concentration and saturation in a large sample of 36 healthy elderly (mean age, 85±6 years) and 19 young adults (mean age, 28±4 years). Non-invasive measurements were obtained on the forehead using a commercially available multi-distance frequency-domain system and analyzed using a diffusion theory model for a semi-infinite, homogeneous medium with semi-infinite boundary conditions. Our study included repeat measurements, taken five months apart, on 16 elderly volunteers that demonstrate intra-subject reproducibility of the absolute measurements with cross-correlation coefficients of 0.9 for absorption coefficient (μa), oxy-hemoglobin concentration ([HbO2]), and total hemoglobin concentration ([HbT]), 0.7 for deoxy-hemoglobin concentration ([Hb]), 0.8 for hemoglobin oxygen saturation (StO2), and 0.7 for reduced scattering coefficient (μ′s). We found significant differences between the two age groups. Compared to young subjects, elderly subjects had lower cerebral [HbO2], [Hb], [HbT], and StO2 by 10±4 μM, 4±3 μM, 14±5 μM, and 6%±5%, respectively. Our results demonstrate the reliability and robustness of multi-distance near-infrared spectroscopy measurements based on a homogeneous model in the human forehead on a large sample of human subjects. Absolute, non-invasive optical measurements on the brain, such as those presented here, can significantly advance the development of NIRS technology as a tool for monitoring resting/basal cerebral perfusion, hemodynamics, oxygenation, and metabolism.