Protamine sulfate (PS) is an FDA approved drug used to reverse heparin-induced anticoagulation in patients. Protamine sulfate is a mixture of primarily four ˜4 kDa arginine-rich cationic polypeptide chains derived from chum (Oncorhynchus keta) salmon sperm. Because the presence of residual host cell salmon DNA (resDNA) in PS drug product can pose safety concerns, processing steps during PS manufacturing are designed to target the reduction of these impurities. However, given protamine's positively charged structure, isolating and measuring negatively charged residual DNA is challenging. Here, the development of a sensitive detection method using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay for a multicopy gene (5S ribosomal DNA) using custom-designed primers and TaqMan probes is described. The PS qPCR standard curve was accurate over a linear range of 0.0025–156.25 pg/μL using protease-digested research grade salmon sperm DNA (neat) as the reference standard. DNA present in PS drug products was extracted using an optimized two-hour procedure achieving ˜85% recovery values from 1 to 125 pg reference DNA spiked into PS (1 mg) samples. The procedure lower limit of quantitation (LLOQ) of 5 pg of DNA per mg of PS or 250 pg of DNA per 50 mg dose of PS was determined from DNA spike recovery curves using the acceptance criteria of 70–130% recovery with % CV ≤ 25%. Seven pharmaceutical-grade lots of PS were evaluated and the detectable amount of resDNA was below the LLOQ. This qPCR method demonstrated sensitivity 40-fold above the current guidelines for resDNA (10 ng DNA per dose). Overall, the approach offers a promising tool for monitoring resDNA in PS and potentially other challenging complex drug products with cationic character.