A needle-tissue interaction experiment has been carried out, by inserting the inner needle of a trocar needle into two ex-vivo human livers. The dataset contains the forces that act on the needle during insertion and retraction into the livers. In addition, a MATLAB code file is included that provides base-level analysis of the data and generates force-position diagrams of the needle insertions. The dataset is available on Mendeley Data (do1i:10.17632/94s7xd9mzt.2), and is made publicly available to enable other researchers to use it for their own research purposes. For further interpretation and discussion of the data, one is referred to the associated research article entitled “PVA matches human liver in needle-tissue interaction” de Jong et al., 2017.