Friction stir butt welding of Mg-Zn-Mn alloy ZM21 hot rolled plates (in three thicknesses - 5 mm, 10 mm and 25 mm) was investigated.Defect-free, full-penetration welds were produced after careful process parameter optimization. Microstructural studies, hardness tests, tensile tests, and bend tests were carried out. Welds produced in 5 mm thick (5-mm-welds) and 10 mm thick plates (10-mm-welds) showed relatively finer grains in the weld nugget and in the heat-affected zone compared to the welds produced in 25 mm thick plates (25-mm-welds). When compared to the base material, 25-mm-welds showed coarser grains both in the weld nugget and in the heat-affected zone. No significant hardness differences were observed between the welds and the base material. Tensile tests on 5-mm and 10-mm-welds yielded a joint efficiency of more than 75%. Bend performance of the welds was found to be satisfactory, falling only slightly behind the base material. Overall, the results show that friction stir welding can be successfully utilized for joining magnesium alloy ZM21 in various thicknesses. © 2010 TIIM, India.