v3.3.1.900
Document and Entity Information - shares
3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2016
Apr. 26, 2016
Entity Information [Line Items]    
Entity Registrant Name NEWLINK GENETICS CORP  
Entity Central Index Key 0001126234  
Current Fiscal Year End Date --12-31  
Entity Filer Category Accelerated Filer  
Document Type 10-Q  
Document Period End Date Mar. 31, 2016  
Document Fiscal Year Focus 2016  
Document Fiscal Period Focus Q1  
Amendment Flag false  
Entity Common Stock, Shares Outstanding   28,861,315
Entity Well-known Seasoned Issuer No  
Entity Voluntary Filers No  
Entity Current Reporting Status Yes