This study investigated the utility of poly(ether imide) (PEI) coating for improving the corrosion resistance and biocompatibility of magnesium (Mg) implants for orthopedic application. In particular, the microstructure of the PEI coating layers was controlled by the adjustment of the temperature used to dry the spin-coated wet PEI films. When a wet PEI film was dried at 4°C, a relatively thick and porous coating layer was achieved as a result of an extensive exchange of the solvent with water in a moist environment. In contrast, when a wet PEI film was dried at 70°C, a relatively thin and dense layer was created due to the faster evaporation of the solvent with a negligible exchange of the solvent with water. The porous PEI coating layer showed higher stability than did the dense one when immersed in a simulated body fluid (SBF), which was presumably attributed to the formation of chemical bonding between the PEI and the Mg substrate. Both the porous and the dense PEI coated Mg specimens showed significantly improved in vitro biocompatibility, which were assessed in terms of cell attachment, proliferation and differentiation. However, interestingly, the dense PEI coating layer showed greater cell proliferation and differentiation than did the porous layer. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A, 2013.