Recombinant DNA technology and corresponding innovations in molecular biology, chemistry and medicine have led to novel therapeutic biomacromolecules as lead candidates in the pharmaceutical drug development pipelines. While monoclonal antibodies and other proteins provide therapeutic potential beyond the possibilities of small molecule drugs, the concomitant demand for supportive bioanalytical sample testing creates multiple novel challenges. For example, intact macromolecules can usually not be quantified by mass-spectrometry without enzymatic digestion and isotopically labeled internal standards are costly and/or difficult to prepare. Classical ELISA-type immunoassays, on the other hand, often lack the sensitivity required to obtain pharmacokinetics of low dosed drugs or pharmacodynamics of suitable biomarkers. Here we summarize emerging state-of-the-art ligand-binding assay technologies for pharmaceutical sample testing, which reveal enhanced analytical sensitivity over classical ELISA formats. We focus on immuno-PCR, which combines antibody specificity with the extremely sensitive detection of a tethered DNA marker by quantitat ... mehrive PCR, and alternative nucleic acid-based technologies as well as methods based on electrochemiluminescence or single-molecule counting. Using case studies, we discuss advantages and drawbacks of these methods for preclinical and clinical sample testing. © 2015 The Royal Society of Chemistry.