Whereas gamma-band neuronal oscillations clearly appear integral to visual attention, the role of lower-frequency oscillations is still being debated. Mounting evidence indicates that a key functional property of these oscillations is the rhythmic shifting of excitability in local neuronal ensembles. Here, we show that when attended stimuli are in a rhythmic stream, delta-band oscillations in the primary visual cortex entrain to the rhythm of the stream, resulting in increased response gain for task-relevant events and decreased reaction times. Because of hierarchical cross-frequency coupling, delta phase also determines momentary power in higher-frequency activity. These instrumental functions of low-frequency oscillations support a conceptual framework that integrates numerous earlier findings.