Atherosclerosis, the most common cause of death, kills suddenly by arterial occlusion by thrombosis, which is caused by plaque rupture. Because a growing necrotic core is highly related to plaque rupture in atherosclerosis, distinguishing between fibrous plaque and lipid-rich plaque in real time is important, but has been challenging. Real-time photoacoustic imaging requires a pulse laser with high repetition rate, which tends to sacrifice pulse energy. Furthermore, a high repetition rate is hard to achieve at lipid-sensitive wavelengths, such as 1210 nm and 1720 nm. To address the unmet need, we have developed the algorithm for PA imaging. We successfully acquired ex vivo PA images from the lipid cores of arterial plaques in rabbit arteries, using a low-power 1064-nm laser. PA images were acquired with a custom-made catheter employing a single-element 40-MHz ultrasound transducer and a compact 1064-nm laser with the pulse energy of 5 μJ and the repetition rate of 24 kHz. Acquired raw data were processed in the time and frequency domains. In the time domain, a delay-and-sum algorithm was used for image enhancement. In the frequency domain, signals exceeding the MTF were removed. As a result, SNR was increased by about 10 dB without degrading spatial resolution. We were able to achieve high-speed and high-SNR lipid target imaging in animals in spite of the low lipid sensitivity of a 1064nm laser. These results show good promise for detecting lipid-rich plaques with a compact high-speed laser, which can be easily adapted for target clinical applications.