Understanding and modeling disturbances play a critical part in designing effective advanced model-based control solutions. Existing linear, stationary disturbance models are oftentimes limiting in the face of time-varying characteristics typically witnessed in process industries. These include intermittent drifts, abrupt changes, temporary oscillations, outliers and the likes. This work proposes a Hidden Markov Model-based framework to deal with such situations that exhibit discrete, modal behavior. The usefulness of the proposed disturbance framework - from modeling to ensuring the integral action under a wide variety of scenarios - is demonstrated through several examples. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.