Inhibition in the cerebral cortex is delivered by a variety of GABAergic interneurons. These cells have been categorized by their morphology, physiology, gene expression and connectivity. Many of these classes appear to be conserved across species, suggesting that the classes play specific functional roles in cortical processing. What these functions are, is still largely unknown. The largest group of interneurons in the upper layers of mouse primary visual cortex (V1) is formed by cells expressing the calcium-binding protein calretinin (CR). This heterogeneous class contains subsets of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) interneurons and somatostatin (SOM) interneurons. Here we show, using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging in mice, that CR neurons can be sensitive to stimulus orientation, but that they are less selective on average than the overall neuronal population. Responses of CR neurons are suppressed by a surrounding stimulus, but less so than the overall population. In rats and primates, CR interneurons have been suggested to provide disinhibition, but we found that in mice their in vivo activation by optogenetics causes a net inhibition of cortical activity. Our results show that the average functional properties of CR interneurons are distinct from the averages of the parvalbumin, SOM and VIP interneuron populations.