Atherosclerotic plaques are mainly composed of proteoglycans, triglycerides, cholesterol, cholesterolester and crystalline calcium. From histopathological characterizations it is known that the composition of these atherosclerotic plaques can vary to a great extent, due to different risk factors as smoking, hyperlipedemia, or genetic background ect. The individual plaque components can be spectroscopically easily identified. Furthermore, spectroscopic imaging technologies offer the possibility to study the plaque compositions in a more quantitative manner than traditional staining techniques. Here, we compare the potential of IR, Raman and CARS microscopy to characterize the constitution of atherosclerotic plaques as well as the structure of the surrounding tissue. For data analysis and image reconstruction spectral decomposition algorithms such as vertex component analysis (VCA) were introduced. The results are in good agreement with the histopathology. Aim of the study is to correlate the compositional characteristics of atherosclerotic plaques with individual disease patterns.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.