Historically, figure-ground segmentation has been seen as an important and even necessary precursor for object recognition. In that context, segmentation is mostly defined as a data driven, that is bottom-up, process. As for humans object recognition and segmentation are heavily intertwined processes, it has been argued that top-down knowledge from object recognition can and should be used for guiding the segmentation process. In this paper, we present a method for the categorization of unfamiliar objects in difficult real-world scenes. The method generates object hypotheses without prior segmentation that can be used to obtain a category-specific figure-ground segmentation. In particular, the proposed approach uses a probabilistic formulation to incorporate knowledge about the recognized category as well as the supporting information in the image to segment the object from the background. This segmentation can then be used for hypothesis verification, to further improve recognition performance. Experimental results show the capacity of the approach to categorize and segment object categories as diverse as cars and cows.