Photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) has emerged as a unique and promising technology for multiscale biomedical imaging. To fully realize its potential for various preclinical and clinical applications, development of systems with high imaging speed, reasonable cost, and manageable data flow are needed. Sparse-sampling PACT with advanced reconstruction algorithms, such as compressed-sensing reconstruction, has shown potential as a solution to this challenge. However, most such algorithms require iterative reconstruction and thus intense computation, which may lead to excessively long image reconstruction times. Here, we developed a principal component analysis (PCA)-based PACT (PCA-PACT) that can rapidly reconstruct high-quality, three-dimensional (3-D) PACT images with sparsely sampled data without requiring an iterative process. In vivo images of the vasculature of a human hand were obtained, thus validating the PCA-PACT method. The results showed that, compared with the back-projection (BP) method, PCA-PACT required ∼50% fewer measurements and ∼40% less time for image reconstruction, and the imaging quality was almost the same as that for BP with full sampling. In addition, compared with compressed sensing-based PACT, PCA-PACT had approximately sevenfold faster imaging speed with higher imaging accuracy. This work suggests a promising approach for low-cost, 3-D, rapid PACT for various biomedical applications.