AZ91 alloy was cast in a steel mould pre-exposed to three different temperatures: -196 ºC, 20 ºC and 650 ºC. The aim of the study was to determine the difference in the microstructure and mechanical properties between the castings formed in a cold mould and those solidifying under near-equilibrium conditions in a mould pre-heated to 650 ºC. Solidification at a low temperature led to dispersion of the structure elements as well as supersaturation of the solid solution of aluminium in magnesium. The heat treatment results indicate that the alloy solidified in the mould pre-exposed to 20 ºC can be successfully aged (heat treated to the T5 temper). It was found that the effect of the ageing process (T5 temper) was greater than the effect of the microstructure fragmentation, which was due to rapid solidification. The ageing results were assessed by comparing the microstructure and mechanical properties of AZ91 brought to the T5 condition with those obtained for the material in the T6 condition.