In the Early Middle Ages, the current area of Barlinek was covered with a primeval forest, a natural border between the lands belonging to the Polans and the Pomeranians. In the middle of the 10th century, the area was incorporated into the country ruled the Piast dynasty. The settlement was later taken over by the Brandenburgians, who created and colonised the state of Neumark around the Polish-Pomeranian  border. Barlinek (Ger. Neu Berlin, later Berlinchen) was founded by a miller by the name of Heinrich Toyta. The location act was issued on 25 January 1278 by Brandenburgian margraves Otto V and Albrecht III. The town was inhabited by settlers coming from inner Germany and had two entrance gates: Myśliborska (Soldiner Tor) and Młyńska (Mühlentor). Many of Barlinek’s inhabitants were farmers and cattle keepers. With time, a lot of people started to deal in crafts: weaving, cloth and flax production, which remained popular until the 19th century.

In the years 1402–1454, Neumark belonged to the Teutonic Order, which had bought it from the House of Luxembourg. It was later purchased by the new rulers of Brandenburg – the Hohenzollerns, who remained in control of the area until WWI. In 1701, Barlinek was incorporated into Prussia and in 1871 – into unified Germany. Since the end of the 18th century, a number of industrial plants had been opened in the town: a paper factory, a plough production plant, a tannery. At the end of the 19th century, a railway line connecting Barlinek with Choszczno and Myślibórz was built.

In the 19th century, the town was a part of Myśliborski District in the province of Brandenburg. On 31 January 1945, Barlinek was entered by the troops of the Red Army’s 12th Armoured Corps. Over 50% of all the town’s buildings were destroyed in the battles. In accordance with the agreements of the Potsdam Conference, territories located east of the Oder and the Nysa Łużycka were granted to Poland. The German population living in the area was deported to the other side of the Oder and replaced with Polish settlers. The area of Barlinek was a part of Szczecińskie Province (since 1975) and Gorzowskie Province (1975-1998). In 1999, it was incorporated into Zachodniopomorskie Province (Myśliborski District). The reconstructed town is currently an industrial centre and a tourist destination.