Intravascular spectroscopic photoacoustic technology can image atherosclerotic plaque composition with high sensitivity and specificity, which is critical for identifying vulnerable plaques. Here, we designed and engineered a catheter of 0.9 mm in diameter for intravascular photoacoustic (IVPA) imaging, smaller than the critical size of 1 mm required for clinical translation. Further, a quasifocusing photoacoustic excitation scheme was developed for the catheter, producing well-detectable IVPA signals from stents and lipids with a laser energy as low as ∼30 μJ/pulse. As a result, this design enabled the use of a low-energy, high-repetition rate, ns-pulsed optical parametric oscillator laser for high-speed spectroscopic IVPA imaging at both the 1.2-μm and 1.7-μm spectral bands for lipid detection. Specifically, for each wavelength, a 1-kHz IVPA A-line rate was achieved, ∼100-fold faster than previously reported IVPA systems offering a similar wavelength tuning range. Using the system, spectroscopic IVPA imaging of peri-adventitial adipose tissue from a porcine aorta segment was demonstrated. The significantly improved imaging speed, together with the reduced catheter size and multiwavelength spectroscopic imaging ability, suggests that the developed high-speed IVPA technology is of great potential to be further translated for in vivo applications.