Over the past ten years, the concept of adaptive optics has evolved from early experimental stages to a standard observing tool now available at almost all major optical and near-infrared telescope facilities. Adaptive optics will also be essential in exploiting the full potential of the large optical/infrared interferometers currently under construction. Both observations with high-angular resolution and at high contrast, and with a high point source sensitivity are facilitated by adaptive optics. Among the areas which benefit most from the use of adaptive optics are studies of the circumstellar environment (envelopes, disks, outflows), substellar companions and multiple systems, and dense young stellar populations. This contribution highlights some of the recent advances in star formation studies facilitated by adaptive optics, and gives a brief tutorial on optimized observing and data reduction strategies.