AbstractMagnesium alloys have attracted increasing interest in the past years due to their potential as implant materials. This interest is based on the fact that magnesium and its alloys are degradable during their time of service in the human body. Moreover magnesium alloys offer a property profile that is very close or even similar to that of human bone. The chemical composition triggers the resulting microstructure and features of degradation. In addition, the entire manufacturing route has an influence on the morphology of the microstructure after processing. Therefore the composition and the manufacturing route have to be chosen carefully with regard to the requirements of an application. This paper discusses the influence of composition and heat treatments on the microstructure, mechanical properties and corrosion behaviour of cast Mg–Gd alloys. Recommendations are given for the design of future degradable magnesium based implant materials.