Understanding brain function requires technologies that can control the activity of large populations of neurons with high fidelity in space and time. We developed a multiphoton holographic approach to activate or suppress the activity of ensembles of cortical neurons with cellular resolution and sub-millisecond precision. Since existing opsins were inadequate, we engineered new soma-targeted (ST) optogenetic tools, ST-ChroME and IRES-ST-eGtACR1, optimized for multiphoton activation and suppression. Employing a three-dimensional all-optical read-write interface, we demonstrate the ability to simultaneously photostimulate up to 50 neurons distributed in three dimensions in a 550 × 550 × 100-µm3 volume of brain tissue. This approach allows the synthesis and editing of complex neural activity patterns needed to gain insight into the principles of neural codes.