Protein adsorption to silica surfaces is a notorious problem in analytical separations. Evanescent-wave cavity ringdown spectroscopy (EW-CRDS) and capillary electrophoresis (CE) were employed to investigate the capability of positively charged polymer coatings to minimize the adsorption of basic proteins. Adsorption of cytochrome c (cyt c) to silica coated with a single layer of polybrene (PB), or a triple layer of PB, dextran sulfate (DS), and PB, was studied and compared to bare silica. Direct analysis of silica surfaces by EW-CRDS revealed that both coatings effectively reduce irreversible protein adsorption. Significant adsorption was observed only for protein concentrations above 400 μM, whereas the PB-DS-PB coating was shown to be most effective and stable. CE analyses of cyt c were performed with and without the respective coatings applied to the fused-silica capillary wall. Monitoring of the electroosmotic flow and protein peak areas indicated a strong reduction of irreversible protein adsorption by the positively charged coatings. Determination of the electrophoretic mobility and peak width of cyt c revealed reversible protein adsorption to the PB coating. It is concluded that the combination of results from EW-CRDS and CE provides highly useful information on the adsorptive characteristics of bare and coated silica surfaces toward basic proteins. © 2009 American Chemical Society.