Adhesive joints have been an effective alternative to conventional mechanical fasteners for joining materials in the aerospace and automotive industries. Although adhesive joints have various advantages, including uniform stress distribution, lower weight, improved corrosion tolerance, and design flexibility, there can be various defects in adhesive joints, which have limited wider application. This paper investigates the effect of a contaminant on the chemical and mechanical properties of the epoxy-adhesive and seeks to determine if a SHG method can reliably detect and characterize the degree of contamination in the epoxy-adhesive. A contract based ultrasonic through-transmission method was used to measure nonlinearity and then the nonlinearity parameter was calculated using the measured fundamental and second harmonic frequency components in the signals. It was found that there is higher sensitivity to contaminant concentration, up to 1.5%, of the nonlinearity parameter than that for the sound velocity. These data were also found to correlate with changes in the mechanical hardness, which was measured by the Rockwell hardness testing, with different four levels of contamination. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and the thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) were also conducted to assess the effect of the contaminant on thermal properties of the epoxy-adhesive. The DSC and TGA techniques were used to evaluate the curing reaction and the thermal stability of the epoxy-adhesive respectively.