The mechanical properties and microstructure of the as-extruded ZM21 magnesium alloy and its modified alloy ZME210 with addition of 0.35wt% cerium were investigated with different extrusion ratios from 14 to 182 by using mechanical property test, microscopic structure quantitative analysis, SEM observation and energy spectrum analysis. The results showed that both ZM21 and ZME210 had an extrusion ratio limit for grain refining, and the grains were found to be finer with higher extrusion ratio when the ratio was not higher than the limit value. The extrusion ratio limit for the best effect for grain refining of ZME210 is lower than that of ZM21. It was found that the Ce can refine the grains effectively after hot extrusion with different extrusion ratios. The effects of Ce on the microstructure and mechanical properties were analyzed.