In the present study, we tested the ability of multidetector-row computed tomography (MDCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify and retrospectively characterize atherosclerotic lesions in human ex vivo coronary arteries. Thirteen ex vivo hearts were studied with MDCT and MRI. MDCT-images were obtained with an isotropic voxel size of 0.6mm(3). MR images were obtained with an in-plane resolution of 195 microm and 3mm slice thickness. All images were matched with histopathology sections. For both modalities, the sensitivity for the detection of any atherosclerotic lesion was evaluated, and a retrospective analysis of plaque morphology according to criteria defined by the American Heart Association (AHA) was performed. At histopathology, 28 atherosclerotic lesions were found. 21 and 23 of these lesions were identified by MDCT and MRI, respectively. Both modalities detected a small number of false-positive lesions. After retrospective matching with histopathology, MDCT as well as MRI were able to differentiate typical morpholocigal features for fatty, fibrous or calcified plaque components. Using the information presented in this study, in vivo coronary artery wall imaging using MDCT as well as MRI could be facilitated and supported for future investigations on this subject.