Electronic structure, effective masses and optical properties of monoclinic HfO2 were studied using the plane-wave ultrasoft pseudopotential technique based on the first-principles density-functional theory (DFT). The calculated equilibrium lattice parameters are in agreement with the previous works. From the band structure, the effective masses and optical properties are obtained. The calculated band structure shows that monoclinic HfO2 has indirect band gap and all of the effective masses of electrons and holes are less than that of a free electron. The peaks position distributions of imaginary parts of the complex dielectric function have been explained according to the theory of crystal-field and molecular-orbital bonding.