Besides impurities in magnesium alloys containing aluminum, the microstructure also plays a role in the corrosion properties of the alloy. By targeted manipulation of grain size, secondary dendrite arm spacings and segregation in terms of amount and position, the corrosion properties are expected to be improved. For this, experiments were carried out by casting alloys with 0, 3, 6, 9, and 12 % aluminum into a mold with different applied cooling rates. The samples were analyzed regarding microstructure and composition, and the grain size and secondary dendrite arm spacings, as a function of aluminum content and cooling rate, were modeled. The results show a decrease in grain size and secondary dendrite arm spacings with an increased cooling rate. The segregated β phase was predominantly situated at the grain boundaries as divorced eutectic and in lamellar form. The assumed influences on the corrosion properties will be examined in Part 2.