Mutual funds that invest in foreign stocks were the top performers during April, May and June as gold funds ended their dazzling first-quarter run and retreated to the sidelines.

The international funds, strong performers in 1985 and 1986, rose 7.79 percent during the second quarter while global funds rose 4.89 percent. International funds invest in foreign stocks while global funds invest in both foreign and domestic stocks.

The international-fund gains came during a period that saw fixed-income funds fall 1.92 percent. Their losses reflected the April upsurge in interest rates and the resulting drop in bond prices. Gold funds, which soared 49.4 percent in the first quarter, dropped 2.10 percent in the second quarter as inflation fears ebbed.

A firming of oil prices helped natural resources funds move up 5.79 percent.

The 30 Dow Jones industrials rose 5.76 percent and the Standard & Poor's 500 moved up 5.02 percent, with dividends reinvested, in the second quarter.

Michael Lipper, head of Lipper Analytical Services, which tracks the performance of the nation's 1,278 mutual funds, said he was surprised at the strength of the international funds but noted that foreign stock markets had been unusually strong during the quarter.

Lipper said he did not like the outlook for fixed-income funds because of the likelihood that inflation will heat up and interest rates will rise over the long-term.

Fixed-income funds "don't hold the potential for the highest total return," he said.

"If you are a value-oriented investor, I think the best values are in the small company growth area," Lipper said. Small companies, he said, offered the market's best return on equity (21.2 percent) but were not being recognized by investors.

In the second quarter, 51 small-company growth funds lost 0.68 percent, after rising 22.7 percent in the first quarter.

Although international funds took 18 of the 25 top places in the second quarter, the biggest gainer was Dreyfus Strategic Aggressive Investing L.P., of New York, a capital appreciation fund that uses options, futures and other hedging techniques permitted under the new tax law. The $9 million fund, formed at the end of March, rose 42.5 percent.

Howard Stein, chairman of Dreyfus Corp., said the performance of the fund was helped by the wide swings in the stock market during the second quarter. The hedging techniques work best in a volatile market, he said. "If you had a flat market, it wouldn't work," he said.

The hedging techniques being used, Stein said, had worked for professional investors and could work for small investors. "These are the first funds that are beginning to show what can be done," he said.

The fund that did worst in the second quarter was Strategic Capital Gains of Dallas. Leroy S. Brenna, its chairman, said the $5 million fund had suffered because 30 percent of its investments were in ORS Corp. of Tulsa, formerly known as Universal Energy Corp.

ORS stock hit the skids, Brenna said, when the company encountered legal problems with the government. The stock, which traded as high as $10 in 1986, dropped to $2 in April.

The three Washington area equity funds turned in the following performances:

Washington Area Growth Fund, sponsored by Calvert Group, fell 2.54 percent; Growth Fund of Washington, sponsored by Johnston, Lemon & Co., rose 2.28 percent; and the Southeastern Growth Fund, sponsored by Wheat, First Securities Inc., dropped 2.41 percent.

Second-quarter results by category were:

Capital appreciation funds, up 1.70 percent; growth funds, up 1.78 percent; small-company growth funds, down 0.68 percent; growth and income funds, up 2.57 percent; equity income funds, up 0.05 percent; health funds, up 0.68 percent; natural resources funds, up 5.79 percent; science and technology funds, up 1.44 percent; utility funds, down 3.10 percent; and specialty funds, down 1.9 percent.

Global funds up 4.89 percent; international funds, up 7.79 percent; gold-oriented funds, down 2.10 percent; option-growth funds, up 3.31 percent; option-income funds, up 3.55 percent; convertible securities funds, down 0.13 percent; balanced funds, up 0.92 percent; income funds, down 1.19 percent; world income funds, plus 0.08 percent; fixed-income funds, down 1.92 percent.