The New York Daily News, suffering from large circulatin losses, has revived its interest in publishing an afternoon edition to compete with the New York Post, the city's only afternoon paper.

Henry Wurzer, the News' executive vice president, said that an afternoon edition is one of many things being considered and that research is under way to test the water for an afternoon paper.

In addition to an afternoon edition, the News long has been considering a special section called Manhattan which would be designed to appeal to the kind of adveritsers and readers who have made the New York Times' daily special sections successful.

The News lost 81,000 daily circulation to 1.55 million and 125,000 Sunday circulation to 2.2 million over the six months ended March 31.

An afternoon paper would attempt to find new readers among the millions who ride New York's buses, subways and commuter trains in the evening rush hour. Daily News editors think that many of these people would welcome an alternative to the Post, which has become increasingly devoted to sex and crime news in the three years since Australian publishing tycoon Rupert Murdoch bought it.

No decision has been made at the News, but there has been a recent flurry of top-level meetings here and in Chicago where the tabloid's parent Tribune Co. is based. The afternoon paper is one idea Daily News executives have been trying to sell in Chicago.

The Post gained 30,000 in circulation to a total of 654,000 over the six months ending March 31. However, the Post is financially shaky because of its inability to attract advertisers.

The Post has studied publishing a morning edition to compete with the News.

Newspaper analysts doubt that three New York dailies -- the News, Post and New York Times -- all can make money because the city is ringed with suburban papers competing for advertising dollars and readers' time.

With the Times prosperous and seemingly invulnerable to competition from the other dailies -- both tabloids -- the News and Post each are trying to make sure for the long term that if New York is to become a two-newspaper town, it isn't over either of their dead bodies.