Contaminated heparin was linked to at least 149 deaths and hundreds of adverse reactions. Published report indicates that heparin contaminants were a natural impurity, dermatan sulfate, and a contaminant, oversulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS). OSCS was assumed to derive from animal cartilage. By analyzing 26 contaminated heparin lots from different sources, our data indicate that the heparin contaminants were chemically sulfated or chemically sulfated/desulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) consisting of heparan sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and dermatan sulfate based on monosaccharide quantification, CE, heparin lyase digestion, and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. Since currently recommended heparin quality control assays had failed to detect certain heparin contaminants, a simple method that detects most contaminants in heparin was developed. This assay detects specific heparin structures that most contaminants cannot mimic and can be performed in any laboratory equipped with an UV spectrometer.