Baxter Travenol Laboratories Inc., one of the nation's leading medical and hospital suppliers, said yesterday it will acquire the Reston-based Compucare Inc. in a stock swap worth $73 million.

Under the merger -- which is expected to be completed sometime this spring -- Compucare would remain in Reston with the same management team at its helm, continuing to sell its information processing services and software products to hospitals, physicians and other health care institutions.

Compucare shareholders would receive $13 worth of Baxter Travenol stock for each share of Compucare stock they own.

"It's a wonderful marriage," said Bama B. Rucker, a financial analyst with Hambrecht & Quist Inc. "They both have what the other doesn't have. Compucare has the installation capability that Baxter Travenol does not, while Baxter Travenol has the marketing savvy Compucare lacks."

The stock market apparently agreed, with Compucare's stock climbing 4 7/8 points to close at 12 yesterday. Baxter Travenol's stock remained unchanged at 14 1/2.

Compucare's stock price plunged last October after the company said its most recent quarterly earnings had dropped to 5 cents a share from 13 cents during the year-previous quarter. Compucare attributed the drop to the new software product the company was just introducing. Since October, the company's stock has been trading at about 6 to 7.