Acoustic environments are composed of complex overlapping sounds that the auditory system is required to segregate into discrete perceptual objects. The functions of distinct auditory processing stations in this challenging task are poorly understood. Here we show a direct role for mouse auditory cortex in detection and segregation of acoustic information. We measured the sensitivity of auditory cortical neurons to brief tones embedded in masking noise. By altering spectrotemporal characteristics of the masker, we reveal that sensitivity to pure tone stimuli is strongly enhanced in coherently modulated broadband noise, corresponding to the psychoacoustic phenomenon comodulation masking release. Improvements in detection were largest following priming periods of noise alone, indicating that cortical segregation is enhanced over time. Transient opsin-mediated silencing of auditory cortex during the priming period almost completely abolished these improvements, suggesting that cortical processing may play a direct and significant role in detection of quiet sounds in noisy environments.