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In this correspondence, our goal is to develop a visual tracking algorithm that is able to track moving objects in the presence of illumination variations in the scene and that is robust to occlusions. We treat the illumination and motion (x-y translation and scale) parameters as the unknown “state” sequence. The observation is the entire image, and the observation model allows for occasional occlusions (modeled as outliers). The nonlinearity and multimodality of the observation model necessitate the use of a particle filter (PF). Due to the inclusion of illumination parameters, the state dimension increases, thus making regular PFs impractically expensive. We show that the recently proposed approach using a PF with a mode tracker can be used here since, even in most occlusion cases, the posterior of illumination conditioned on motion and the previous state is unimodal and quite narrow. The key idea is to importance sample on the motion states while approximating importance sampling by posterior mode tracking for estimating illumination. Experiments demonstrate the advantage of the proposed algorithm over existing PF-based approaches for various face and vehicle tracking. We are also able to detect illumination model changes, e.g., those due to transition from shadow to sunlight or vice versa by using the generalized expected log-likelihood statistics and successfully compensate for it without ever loosing track.