Intravascular photoacoustic (IVPA) imaging can characterize atherosclerotic plaque composition on the basis of the optical absorption contrast between different tissue types. Given the high optical absorption of lipid at 1720 nm wavelength, an atherosclerotic rabbit aorta was imaged at this wavelength ex vivo using an integrated intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and IVPA imaging catheter in the presence of luminal blood. Strong optical absorption of lipid combined with low background signal from other tissues provides a high-contrast, depth-resolved IVPA image of lipid. The ability to image lipid at a single wavelength without removing luminal blood suggests that in vivo detection of lipid in atherosclerotic plaques using combined IVUS/IVPA imaging is possible. © 2012 Optical Society of America.