Eolian sand dunes and sand sheets are extensive in the semiarid regions of northern-central China. Previous studies indicated that these eolian sands mainly formed during historical times. However, the sand sources and their reworking processes have not been well studied, and even the reasons for their occurrence are still controversial. Field investigation and sedimentary evidence indicate that both the inner Mu Us Desert and its southern marginal region, both sources of modern eolian sand, are largely associated with reworking of sands of the last glaciation. Based on geological, documentary, and archaeological data, three phases of land cultivation during the past 2300 years, together with historical droughts, high wind energy, and the easily reworked sand sources, largely account for the occurrence of active sand dunes and sand sheets in the Mu Us Desert.