The structure of intermetallic phases and planar defects in the as-cast and the solutiontreated microstructures of a Mg-8Y-2Zn-0.6Zr (wt%) alloy are characterized using transmission electron microscopy. The alloy was produced by permanent mould casting and solution treated at 500 °C. It is found that the intermetallic particles in the as-cast microstructure have a monoclinic structure. An appreciable amount of intermetallic particles is still retained along grain boundaries after solution treatments for up to 60 hrs. However, the structure of the retained intermetallic particles changes gradually from monoclinic to hexagonal during the solution treatments. Some planar defects are also detected in the as-cast and the solution-treated (1 hr) microstructures. These defects have characteristic features of stacking faults.