Fast degradation rates in the physiological environment constitute the main limitation for magnesium alloys used in biodegradable hard tissue implants. In this work, the corrosion behavior of AZ91 magnesium alloy in simulated body fluids (SBF) was systematically investigated to determine its performance in a physiological environment. The influence of the main constituent phases on the corrosion behavior was studied by in situ visual observation and scanning electron microscopy. Energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry and Fourier transfer infrared spectroscopy revealed that both calcium and magnesium phosphates are present in the corroded products besides magnesium oxide. Electrochemical methods including open circuit potential evolution and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy were used to investigate the mechanism. The corresponding electrode controlled processes and evolution of the corrosion products layer were discussed. The degradation rate after immersion in SBF for seven days was calculated from both the weight loss and hydrogen evolution methods.