Selective visual attention involves dynamic interplay between attentional control systems and sensory brain structures. We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a cued spatial-attention task to dissociate brain activity related to attentional control from that related to selective processing of target stimuli. Distinct networks were engaged by attention-directing cues versus subsequent targets. Superior frontal, inferior parietal and superior temporal cortex were selectively activated by cues, indicating that these structures are part of a network for voluntary attentional control. This control biased activity in multiple visual cortical areas, resulting in selective sensory processing of relevant visual targets.