Document and Entity Information - USD ($)
6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2017
Aug. 01, 2017
Document and Entity Information [Abstract]    
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 Jun. 30, 2017  
Document Fiscal Year Focus 2017  
Document Fiscal Period Focus Q2  
Amendment Flag false  
Entity Common Stock, Shares Outstanding   29,421,041
Entity Public Float $ 159,637,289