The origin of disks surrounding young stars has direct implications for our understanding of the formation of planetary systems. In the interstellar clouds from which star form, angular momentum is regulated by magnetic fields, preventing the spin up of contracting cores. When ∼ 0.03 pc-sized dense cores decouple from the magnetic field and collapse dynamically, ∼ 10−3 km s−1 pc of specific angular momentum is locked into the system. A viscous accretion disk is one of two possible mechanisms available for the necessary redistribution of angular momentum; the other one is the formation of a multiple stellar system. Recent observational results involving high-angular resolution observations are reviewed: the presence of disks deep inside collapsing envelopes; an accretion shock surrounding a disk; the velocity field in collapsing and slowly rotating envelopes; a possible transitional object, characterized as a large, contracting disk; and the velocity field in disks around T Tauri stars. Observational facilities becoming available over the next several years promise to offer significant progress in the study of the origin of protoplanetary disks.