The effect of Cd and Sb addition on the microstructural and mechanical properties of as-cast AZ31 alloys was investigated and compared. The results indicate that the difference of Sb and Cd in the microstructure and mechanical properties of as-cast AZ31 magnesium alloy is significant. Addition of 0.15%Sb (mass fraction) to AZ31 alloy can refine the matrix and β-Mg17Al12 phase but not form a new phase Mg3Sb2. Oppositely, by addition of 0.3-0.7% Cd to AZ31 alloy, Cd was dissolved into the AZ31 alloy, the phase composition did not change but was refined also. Accordingly, the Cd-refined AZ31 alloy exhibits higher tensile and impact toughness and Brinell hardness properties than the Sb- refined one. The difference of Sb and Cd in the mechanical properties is possibly related to the solid solution of Cd into the matrix and formation of Mg3Sb2 which has the same close-packed hexagonal structure as α-Mg.