Intravascular optical coherence tomography (IV-OCT) is a high-resolution imaging method used to visualize the internal structures of walls of coronary arteries in vivo. However, accurate characterization of atherosclerotic plaques with gray-scale IV-OCT images is often limited by various intrinsic artifacts. In this study, we present an algorithm for characterizing lipid-rich plaques with a spectroscopic OCT technique based on a Gaussian center of mass (GCOM) metric. The GCOM metric, which reflects the absorbance properties of lipids, was validated using a lipid phantom. In addition, the proposed characterization method was successfully demonstrated in vivo using an atherosclerotic rabbit model and was found to have a sensitivity and specificity of 94.3% and 76.7% for lipid classification, respectively.