The rupture of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque accounts for the majority of clinically significant acute cardiovascular events. Because stability of these culprit lesions is directly related to chemical and morphological composition, Raman spectroscopy may be a useful technique for their study. Recent developments in optical fiber probe technology have allowed for the real-time in vivo Raman spectroscopic characterization of human atherosclerotic plaque demonstrated in this work. We spectroscopically examine 74 sites during carotid endarterectomy and femoral artery bypass surgeries. Of these, 34 are surgically biopsied and examined histologically. Excellent signal-to-noise ratio spectra are obtained in only and fit with an established model, demonstrating accurate tissue characterization. We also report the first evidence that Raman spectroscopy has the potential to identify vulnerable plaque, achieving a sensitivity and specificity of 79 and 85%, respectively. These initial findings indicate that Raman spectroscopy has the potential to be a clinically relevant diagnostic tool for studying cardiovascular disease.