Magnesium phosphate cement (MPC) paste is prepared by mixing dead burned magnesia powder and potassium di-hydrogen phosphate with a proper proportion of water. The superior properties such as fast setting, high early strength, low shrinkage and good bonding makes MPC suitable for applications in rapid repair of infrastructures. However, the setting time of MPC is sometimes too fast, only taking a few minutes, which causes difficulties in manipulation. How to retard and control the setting time of MPC becomes a challenging topic in both scientific and engineering fields. It was found that the setting of MPC was greatly influenced by the reactivity of magnesia, which could be determined by a quick, accurate and convenient test method. Two kinds of magnesia, namely, high-reactivity magnesia and low-reactivity magnesia were blended in order to control the setting time of MPC. Effects of magnesia to phosphate molar ratio, blending ratio and borax addition on setting time, workability and mechanical properties of MPC cement paste were investigated. Finally, the suitable ranges of the different constitutes of MPC based repair materials with satisfied workability and strength development were proposed for the practical engineering applications.