A color pattern recognition system must identify a target by its shape and color distribution. In real situations, however, the color information is affected by changes of the light source (e.g., from indoor illumination to outdoor daylight), often making recognition impossible. In this work, we propose a color pattern recognition technique with tolerance for illumination changes within the common sources of white light. This can be accomplished using the coordinates of the CIELAB system, luminance (L*), chroma (C*), and hue (h*) instead of the conventional RGB system. The proposal has some additional advantages: there is no need to store a matched filters base to analyze scenes captured under different light sources (one set of filters for each illuminant light source) and therefore the recognition process can be simplified; and in most cases, the contribution of only two channels (C* and h*) is enough to avoid false alarms in color pattern recognition. From the results, we show that the recognition system is improved when CIELAB coordinates are used.