The aim of this study was to identify, by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the ability of the blood-pool contrast agent B22956/1 to detect atherosclerotic plaques developing at the brachiocephalic artery of apolipoprotein E knockout (apoE-KO) mice and to possibly identify vulnerable atherosclerotic lesions. After high-fat feeding for 8 or 12 weeks, MRIs of brachiocephalic arteries were acquired before and after B22956/1 administration; then vessels were removed and analyzed by histology. B22956/1 injection caused a rapid increase in plaque signal enhancement and plaque to muscle contrast values, which remained stable up to 70 minutes. A linear correlation between signal enhancement and macrophage content was found 10 minutes after B22956/1 injection (p < .01). Signal enhancement and plaque to muscle contrast values correlated with macrophage content 40 minutes after contrast agent administration (p < .01). Finally, 70 minutes after B22956/1 infusion, plaque to muscle contrast significantly correlated with the percentage of stenosis (p < .005). B22956/1 administration to high fat-fed apoE-KO mice resulted in a rapid enhancement of atherosclerotic plaques and in a great ability to rapidly visualize vulnerable plaques, characterized by a high macrophage content. These results suggest that B22956/1 could represent an interesting tool for the identification of atherosclerotic plaques potentially leading to acute cardiovascular events.