v3.7.0.1
Document and Entity Information - shares
3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2017
May 01, 2017
Document And Entity Information [Abstract]    
Document Type 10-Q  
Amendment Flag false  
Document Period End Date Mar. 31, 2017  
Document Fiscal Year Focus 2017  
Document Fiscal Period Focus Q1  
Trading Symbol EMIS  
Entity Registrant Name EMISPHERE TECHNOLOGIES INC  
Entity Central Index Key 0000805326  
Current Fiscal Year End Date --12-31  
Entity Filer Category Smaller Reporting Company  
Entity Common Stock, Shares Outstanding   60,852,478