A monochromatic CT for imaging the human head and neck is being developed at the National Synchrotron Light Source. We compared the performance of this system, multiple energy computed tomography (MECT), with that of a conventional CT (CCT) using phantoms. The advantage in image contrast of MECT, with its beam energy tuned just above the K-edge of contrast element, over CCT carried out at 120 kVp, was approximately equal to 3.2-fold for iodine and approximately equal to 2.2 fold for gadolinium. Image noise was compared by simulations because this comparison requires matching the spatial resolutions of the two systems. Simulations at a 3- rad dose and 3-mm slice height on an 18-cm-diameter acrylic phantom, with MECT operating at 60.5 keV, showed that image noise for MECT was 1.4 HU vs. 1.8 HU for CCT. Simulations in the dual-energy quantitative CT mode showed a two-fold advantage for MECT in image noise, as well as its superior quantification. MECT operated in the planar mode revealed fatty tissue in the body of a rat using xenon K-edge subtraction. Our initial pan for clinical application of the system is to image the composition of carotid artery plaques non-invasively, separating the plaques' main constituents: the fatty, fibrous, and calcified tissues.