Ketamine has emerged as a widespread treatment for a variety of psychiatric disorders when used at sub-anesthetic doses, but the neural mechanisms underlying its acute action remain unclear. Here, we identified NMDA receptors containing the 2A subunit (GluN2A) on parvalbumin (PV)-expressing inhibitory interneurons as a pivotal target of low-dose ketamine. Genetically deleting GluN2A receptors globally or selectively from PV interneurons abolished the rapid enhancement of visual cortical responses and gamma-band oscillations by ketamine. Moreover, during the follicular phase of the estrous cycle in female mice, the ketamine response was transiently attenuated along with a concomitant decrease of grin2A mRNA expression within PV interneurons. Thus, GluN2A receptors on PV interneurons mediate the immediate actions of low-dose ketamine treatment, and fluctuations in receptor expression across the estrous cycle may underlie sex-differences in drug efficacy.