Learning the value of options in an uncertain environment is central to optimal decision making. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been implicated in using reinforcement information to control behavior. Here we demonstrate that the ACC’s critical role in reinforcement-guided behavior is neither in detecting nor in correcting errors, but in guiding voluntary choices based on the history of actions and outcomes. ACC lesions did not impair the performance of monkeys (Macaca mulatta) immediately after errors, but made them unable to sustain rewarded responses in a reinforcement-guided choice task and to integrate risk and payoff in a dynamic foraging task. These data suggest that the ACC is essential for learning the value of actions.