The clinical symptoms and morbidity that result from carotid artery disease, the primary cause of stroke, are mainly due to plaque ulceration, thrombosis, intraplaque hemorrhage, and thinned fibrous caps. The contents of atherosclerotic plaques of the carotid artery can be determined with in vivo high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging with flow suppression. Eight patients scheduled to undergo endarterectomy and four healthy volunteers were imaged with a 1.5-T imager and custom-made carotid phased-array coils. T1-weighted spin-echo images and cardiac-gated proton-density--weighted fast spin-echo images were acquired. In vivo imaging findings as determined by three radiologists were correlated with ex vivo imaging and histologic findings. Among the eight plaque specimens, regions of hemorrhage, calcium, lipid deposits, and fibrous plaques were identified on T1- and proton-density-weighted images. Calcium and lipid deposits were detectable on both T1- and proton-density--weighted images. Hemorrhage and fibrous plaques were better demonstrated on proton-density--weighted images.