Allmusic's Jose Promis praised Desde un Principio: From the Beginning, calling the album an "ideal introduction" to the artist, although he complained about the songs on it being "truncated", particularly towards the end. The album received a Billboard Latin Music Award for Latin Greatest Hits Album of the Year. Desde un Principio: From the Beginning reached number one on both the Billboard Top Latin Albums and the Billboard Tropical Albums charts, and became the best-selling album of 2000 on both charts. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) after shipments reached 500,000 copies.
After the release of Contra la Corriente in 1997, disputes over certain business practices arose between Marc Anthony and RMM executive Ralph Mercado.Columbia Records had approached Anthony to sign a contract with their record label. However, Mercado would not allow Anthony to leave RMM Records because of an earlier contract committing Anthony to record two more albums for RMM. Anthony filed a lawsuit, and with the backing of Columbia Records, bought out the remainder of the contract. As part of the settlement, Anthony allowed RMM Records to release a "greatest hits" collection from his earlier records.
Desde un Principio: From the Beginning includes a total of fifteen songs, most of which came from his recordings with RMM. Four songs were selected from each of his earlier albums (Otra Nota,Todo a Su Tiempo, and Contra la Corriente). The opener, a tropical version of "No Me Ames", is a duet with American singer and actress Jennifer Lopez; she included the recording on her debut album On the 6 (1999). "Vivir lo Nuestro", featuring La India, was originally recorded on the RMM Records compilation album Combinacion Perfecta. "Preciosa" is a cover of the Rafael Hernández song which Anthony had recorded for a tribute album to Hernandez, Romance Del Cumbanchero – La Musica del Rafael Hernández.
Jose Promis of Allmusic gave the album 4.5 out of 5 stars. He described it as a "superb collection", and wrote that Desde un Principio "provides a wonderful introduction to the music of Marc Anthony, a singer that, undoubtedly, will one day rank among the best." Promis also complained that the songs were "severely truncated", especially near their end.