The role of frontal cortex in selective attention to visual distractors was examined in an attentional capture task in which participants searched for a unique shape in the presence or absence of an additional colour singleton distractor. The presence of the additional singleton was associated with slower behavioural responses to the shape target, and a greater neural signal in inferior frontal gyrus. To investigate the involvement of cognitive control functions of the frontal lobes in the capture of attention by the additional singletons, we measured the effect of the additional singleton in a context of either low or high working memory load. Whereas behavioural capture was unaffected by the level of load on working memory, greater activity associated with the presence of the additional singleton was observed in inferior frontal gyrus, but only under high load. This effect was greater in participants who experienced greater capture. We argue that the role of inferior frontal gyrus in selective attention is to detect potential sources of distraction. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.