We establish performance characteristics of needle-type waveguides in three-dimensional array architectures as light delivery interfaces into deep tissue for applications, such as optogenetic and infrared (IR) neural stimulation. A single optrode waveguide achieves as high as 90% transmission efficiency, even at tissue depths . Throughout the visible and near-IR spectrum, the effective light attenuation through the waveguide is orders of magnitude smaller than attenuation in tissue/water, as confirmed by both simulation and experimental results. Light emission profiles from the optrode tips into tissue were also measured. Beam widths of 70 to 150 μm and full-angle divergence ranging from 13 to 40 deg in tissue can be achieved. These beam characteristics satisfy a wide range of requirements for targeted illumination in neural stimulation.