Neuronal responses at early stages in visual cortical processing, including those in primary visual cortex (V1), are subject to the influences of visual context, experience and attention. Here we show that for monkeys trained in a shape discrimination task, V1 neurons took on novel functional properties related to the attributes of the trained shapes. Furthermore, these properties depended on the perceptual task being performed; neurons responded very differently to an identical visual stimulus under different visual discrimination tasks. These top-down influences were seen from the very beginning and throughout the entire time course of the neural responses. Information theoretic analysis showed that neurons carried more information about a stimulus attribute when the animals were performing a task related to that attribute. Our findings suggest that the output from V1 reflects both sensory and behavioral context.