Sensory systems exhibit mechanisms of neural adaptation, which adjust neuronal activity on the basis of recent stimulus history. In primary visual cortex (V1) in particular, adaptation controls the responsiveness of individual neurons and shifts their visual selectivity. What benefits does adaptation confer on a neuronal population? We measured adaptation in the responses of populations of cat V1 neurons to stimulus ensembles with markedly different statistics of stimulus orientation. We found that adaptation served two homeostatic goals. First, it maintained equality in the time-averaged responses across the population. Second, it maintained independence in selectivity across the population. Adaptation scaled and distorted population activity according to a simple multiplicative rule that depended on neuronal orientation preference and on stimulus orientation. We conclude that adaptation in V1 acts as a mechanism of homeostasis, enforcing a tendency toward equality and independence in neural activity across the population.