An important possibility to improve the corrosion behaviour of magnesium alloys is the application of protective coatings. The quality of such coatings depends mainly on the pretreatment and the exposure conditions after pretreatment. Since magnesium surfaces change much faster under atmospheric conditions than those of almost any other technical material, it is necessary to pay special attention to this particular feature. The activity of acid-pickled surfaces of the magnesium alloys AZ31 and AZ91 in dependence on the exposure time and the humidity conditions was investigated with electrochemical noise (EN) measurements. In addition to pickling, plasma chemical vapour deposition processes open new possibilities for an economical, as well as ecologically quite safe, pretreatment. The results of EN investigations after acid pickling as well as specific plasma oxidation treatments of the two magnesium alloys after exposure to air with different humidities are presented.