The objective of this study was to define the constitutive response of brainstem undergoing finite shear deformation. Brainstem was characterized as a transversely isotropic viscoelastic material and the material model was formulated for numerical implementation. Model parameters were fit to shear data obtained in porcine brainstem specimens undergoing finite shear deformation in three directions: parallel, perpendicular, and cross sectional to axonal fiber orientation and determined using a combined approach of finite element analysis (FEA) and a genetic algorithm (GA) optimizing method. The average initial shear modulus of brainstem matrix of 4-week old pigs was , and therefore the brainstem offers little resistance to large shear deformations in the parallel or perpendicular directions, due to the dominant contribution of the matrix in these directions. The fiber reinforcement stiffness was , indicating that brainstem is anisotropic and that axonal fibers have an important role in the cross-sectional direction. The first two leading relative shear relaxation moduli were 0.8973 and 0.0741, respectively, with corresponding characteristic times of 0.0047 and , respectively, implying rapid relaxation of shear stresses. The developed material model and parameter estimation technique are likely to find broad applications in neural and orthopaedic tissues.