To provide a database for various arterial tissues, near-infrared (NIR) Fourier-transform Raman spectra were collected in vitro from human arterial walks and atherosclerotic plaques (including calcified regions, noncalcified regions of varing morphology and color, and the plaque-covering tissues). Comparison with the Raman spectrum of pure animal fat reveals that the very intense and sharp line at 1439 cm-1 is the most prominent fat signal, which is far removed from the collagen signal at 1450 cm-1 and can be conveniently used for the purpose of tissue recognition. Moreover, the NIR Raman spectra carry information about the structure and chemical compositions of the various atherosclerotic deposits. For example, the intense 961-cm-1 line (apatite P-O stretching mode) indicates the status of tissue calcification and the presence of protein and collagen are reflected by Raman lines at ca. 1667, 1520, 1270, 1129, 1029, 880, 852, 700 and 426 cm-1.