Microstructure changes brought by the addition of La element to AZ91 magnesium alloy are studied, also, the precipitating phases were identified and their influence on the mechanical properties of alloys was investigated. Results show La makes refinement of microstructure of the AZ91 alloy, and decrease the size of Mg17Al12 phase. La element takes a priority to react with Al element over Mg, forming binary phase Al11La3 with high melting point. Certain amount of La increases tensile strength, yield strength and elongation. With more addition, La would combine more Al in matrix and decrease strengthening effect, because Al11La3 phase would become coarsening. The mechanical poroerties tests indicate that AZ91+0.16%La alloy has the best properties. Maximum tensile strength, maximum yield strength and elongation are 245MPa, 178MPa and 14.5% respective, increased by 21%, 19% and 48% respectively. The mechanism of La strenthing mechanical properties is proposed that Al11La3 phase enriched on solid-liquid interface, increased the degree of supercooling, refined the grain size and changed the crystal style.