The relationship between neuronal activity and psychophysical judgement has long been of interest to students of sensory processing. Previous analyses of this problem have compared the performance of human or animal observers in detection or discrimination tasks with the signals carried by individual neurons, but have been hampered because neuronal and perceptual data were not obtained at the same time and under the same conditions. We have now measured the performance of monkeys and of visual cortical neurons while the animals performed a psychophysical task well matched to the properties of the neurons under study. Here we report that the reliability and sensitivity of most neurons on this task equalled or exceeded that of the monkeys. We therefore suggest that under our conditions, psychophysical judgements could be based on the activity of a relatively small number of neurons.