This study introduces new methods of time-resolved laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy (TR-LIFS) data analysis for tissue characterization. These analytical methods were applied for the detection of atherosclerotic vulnerable plaques. Upon pulsed nitrogen laser (337 nm, 1 ns) excitation, TR-LIFS measurements were obtained from carotid atherosclerotic plaque specimens (57 endarteroctomy patients) at 492 distinct areas. The emission was both spectrally- (360-600 nm range at 5 nm interval) and temporally- (0.3 ns resolution) resolved using a prototype clinically compatible fiber-optic catheter TR-LIFS apparatus. The TR-LIFS measurements were subsequently analyzed using a standard multiexponential deconvolution and a recently introduced Laguerre deconvolution technique. Based on their histopathology, the lesions were classified as early (thin intima), fibrotic (collagen-rich intima), and high-risk (thin cap over necrotic core and/or inflamed intima). Stepwise linear discriminant analysis (SLDA) was applied for lesion classification. Normalized spectral intensity values and Laguerre expansion coefficients (LEC) at discrete emission wavelengths (390, 450, 500 and 550 nm) were used as features for classification. The Laguerre based SLDA classifier provided discrimination of high-risk lesions with high sensitivity (SE>81%) and specificity (SP>95%). Based on these findings, we believe that TR-LIFS information derived from the Laguerre expansion coefficients can provide a valuable additional dimension for the diagnosis of high-risk vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques.