A correct modelling of tissue morphology is determinant for the identification of vulnerable plaques. This paper aims at describing the plaque composition by means of a Rayleigh Mixture Model applied to ultrasonic data. The effectiveness of using a mixture of distributions is established through synthetic and real ultrasonic data samples. Furthermore, the proposed mixture model is used in a plaque classification problem in Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) images of coronary plaques. A classifier tested on a set of 67 in-vitro plaques, yields an overall accuracy of 86% and sensitivity of 92%, 94% and 82%, for fibrotic, calcified and lipidic tissues, respectively. These results strongly suggest that different plaques types can be distinguished by means of the coefficients and Rayleigh parameters of the mixture distribution.