A targeted gold nanoparticle has been developed as a contrast agent for photoacoustic medical imaging. We have studied cancer cell targeting by antibody conjugated gold nanorods for high contrast photoacoustic imaging. By changing the aspect ratio of the elongated "rod" shape of the gold nanoparticle, its plasmon peak absorption wavelength can be tuned to the near IR (700-900 nm) for an increased penetration depth into biological tissue. Effective cell targeting and sensitive photoacoustic detection of a single layer of cells are demonstrated. Combining ultrasound with contrast agent based photoacoustic imaging is proposed as a visual tool to compound molecular and structural information for early stage prostate cancer detection.