The physiological response properties of neurons in the visual system are inherited mainly from feedforward inputs. Interestingly, feedback inputs often outnumber feedforward inputs. Although they are numerous, feedback connections are weaker, slower, and considered to be modulatory, in contrast to fast, high-efficacy feedforward connections. Accordingly, the functional role of feedback in visual processing has remained a fundamental mystery in vision science. At the core of this mystery are questions about whether feedback circuits regulate spatial receptive field properties versus temporal responses among target neurons, or whether feedback serves a more global role in arousal or attention. These proposed functions are not mutually exclusive, and there is compelling evidence to support multiple functional roles for feedback. In this review, the role of feedback in vision will be explored mainly from the perspective of corticothalamic feedback. Further generalized principles of feedback applicable to corticocortical connections will also be considered.