Condition monitoring often involves the analysis of systems with hidden factors that switch between different modes of operation in some way. Given a sequence of observations, the task is to infer the filtering distribution of the switch setting at each time step. In this paper, we present factorial switching linear dynamical systems as a general framework for handling such problems. We show how domain knowledge and learning can be successfully combined in this framework, and introduce a new factor (the ldquoX-factorrdquo) for dealing with unmodeled variation. We demonstrate the flexibility of this type of model by applying it to the problem of monitoring the condition of a premature baby receiving intensive care. The state of health of a baby cannot be observed directly, but different underlying factors are associated with particular patterns of physiological measurements and artifacts. We have explicit knowledge of common factors and use the X-factor to model novel patterns which are clinically significant but have unknown cause. Experimental results are given which show the developed methods to be effective on typical intensive care unit monitoring data.