Dominion Federal Savings and Loan Association agreed yesterday to post a $50 million bond that will permit the S&L to appeal a court decision this week requiring Dominion to pay $129 million in damages to the owners of Penthouse magazine.

Under the court-approved agreement, Penthouse will take no action to enforce the court's order while Dominion pursues its appeal, thus giving the S&L breathing room in its legal battle. The posting of the bond means Penthouse is assured of receiving at least $50 million if the judgment is upheld.

The announcement came at the end of a day of negotiations in New York between lawyers for Penthouse International and Dominion, which was stunned Thursday when a federal judge found it had illegally breached an agreement to lend Penthouse International $35 million for a casino-hotel project in Atlantic City.

At the McLean headquarters of the bank, Dominion issued a statement late yesterday that it "is experiencing withdrawals slightly above normal, but otherwise business is as usual," as news of the decision reached its 150,000 depositors.

David L. Erickson, senior executive vice president, said that as of 3:30 p.m. yesterday, Dominion branches reported $29 million of withdrawals and $23 million of deposits. He said the drain of $6 million was typical of normal daily swings in deposits. "We go up and down $10 million every day," he said.

"We had some accounts closed, there's no question about that," Erickson added. "But we certainly appreciate the confidence our customers have shown in the institution."

Kurt Schnepf, a stockbroker in the Tysons Corner area, withdrew most of his savings account at a branch of Dominion Federal near Tysons. He said the S&L was insured by an agency of the federal government, but "If something were to adversely happen to them, as far as their liquidity, I don't want to be in a situation where I can't get to it {his money}.

Separately, officials of Dominion Bankshares Corp. of Roanoke, which runs several branches in the Washington area, spent yesterday assuring customers they have nothing to do with Dominion Federal. Susan Whitfield, a senior official at the bank in Northern Virginia, said, "There was {a} flurry of activity at our branches and the switchboard was flooded with calls."

Dominion Federal has vigorously disputed the court ruling, which if upheld could adversely affect its financial position. Dominion has a net worth of $74 million and total assets of roughly $1.8 billion; it operates 31 savings branches and 25 mortgage offices.

Yesterday's decision to post a bond is considered significant because it will allow the savings and loan to pursue its appeal with little impact on its day-to-day operations. Otherwise Penthouse could have attached liens on Dominion's assets, such as its bank accounts or real estate property in its name, perhaps frightening off depositors and borrowers, according to a Washington corporate law attorney.

Dominion won't actually put up the bond, but will pay a premium to a bonding company. The premium probably will be about $100,000. The bonding company will ensure that a judgment up to $50 million will be paid .

Erickson said Dominion has not determined what it will put up as collateral for the bonding company, but said it wouldn't be a problem. "We've got a billion and half dollars worth of mortgages that we could put up," he said.

Neither Erickson or Penthouse lawyers would say how they reached the $50 million figure as security for the judgment.

Staff writer Lynda Richardson contributed to this story