Plasma carburizing of AISI 316L austenitic stainless steel was carried out at low temperature to improve the surface hardness without degradation of its corrosion resistance. The microstructure, surface hardness, phase composition and corrosion property of the hardened layer were analyzed. The experimental results show that high-quality hardened layers can be produced at the carburizing temperatures between 673 K and 773 K, which have not only high surface hardness and wear resistance, but also good corrosion resistance. All of the hardened layers display a precipitation-free structure or Sc phase. The chromium carbides began to precipitate in the hardened layer as soon as the carburizing temperature is higher than 823 K. The precipitation of chromium carbides will lead to deterioration in corrosion resistance of the hardened stainless steel.