The effect of Y addition on the microstructure of AZ61 alloy was investigated by optical microscopy (OM), X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The corrosion behavior of AZ61 alloy with Y addition in 3.5 % NaCl solution was studied by static weight loss and polarization curves corrosion tests. The results show that AZ61 alloy with Y addition can refine grain size of the matrix and alter the distribution of the phase β-Mg17Al12 from continuous network morphology transition to small and dispersive distribution along the grain boundary by forming the second phase Al2Y which has a high melting point. In addition, the addition of Y can decrease the corrosion current density of AZ61 magnesium alloy in 3.5% NaCl solution, thereby improving the corrosion resistance of AZ61 magnesium alloy. Results show that AZ61 magnesium alloy with 1.0% Y has the most refined microstructure and the best corrosion resistance.