Combined intravascular ultrasound and intravascular photoacoustic (IVUS/IVPA) imaging has been previously established as a viable means for assessing atherosclerotic plaque morphological and compositional characteristics using both endogenous and exogenous contrast. In this study, IVUS/IVPA imaging of atherosclerotic rabbit aortas following systemic injection of gold nanorods (AUNRs) with peak absorbance within the tissue optical window is performed. Ex vivo imaging results reveal a high photoacoustic signal from localized AUNRs in regions with atherosclerotic plaques. Corresponding histological staining further confirms the preferential extravasation of AUNRs in atherosclerotic regions with compromised luminal endothelium and acute inflammation. The ability to detect AUNRs using combined IVUS and photoacoustic imaging in the presence of luminal saline and luminal blood is evaluated using both spectroscopic and single wavelength IVPA imaging techniques. Results demonstrate that AUNR detection within the arterial wall can be achieved using both methods, even in the case of imaging through luminal blood.