Dissimilar metal combinations are often necessary when manufacturing a component in order to meet particular functional and engineering requirements or protect against environmental degradation. Stainless steels are used in a diverse range of applications due to their excellent corrosion resistance, formability and strength. The 316L stainless steel also shows good crashworthiness due to its high strain rate sensitivity which makes it suitable for the transportation industry. The joining together of the 316L steel and AZ31 magnesium alloy cannot be achieved using conventional fusion welding methods and therefore, diffusion bonding using interlayers was used to overcome the differences in their physical properties. The results show that Cu and Ni interlayers form a eutectic with the magnesium which enhances wettability and bond formation through isothermal solidification. The effect of hold time on the microstructural developments across the joint region was studied at a bonding temperature of 530oC and 510oC for the Cu and Ni interlayers respectively using a bonding pressure of 0.2 MPa. This preliminary investigation shows that by increasing the bonding time from 5 to 60 minutes results in a Cu-Mg and Ni-Mg eutectic phase structure forming along the bond interface. By holding the joint at the bonding temperature for 15 minutes initiates isothermal solidification of the joint and this was confirmed by DSC analysis. However, the movement of the solid/liquid interface on solidification pushes intermetallic phases into the center of the bond during the solidification stage. The intermetallics increase the hardness value of the bond interface and lower final bond strengths.