Robert A. Harte, 66, executive officer of the American Society of Biological Chemists for 16 years, died of a heart attack Oct. 1 at his home in Derwood, Md.

Mr. Harte was born in New York City and graduated from the City College of New York. He later did graduate work at CCNY and at Columbia University.

He worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research for several years and held jobs in private industry before becoming executive officer of the American Society of Biological Chemists in Bethesda in 1961. He also was manager of The Journal of Biological Chemistry, which is published by the society.

He retired from the society last July. At the time of his death, Mr. Harte was a consultant to the National Library of Medicine, the American Lung Association, and Steven K. Herlitz, Inc.

Mr. Harte also served on a number of committees of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council. He was the author of about 50 scientific papers and was active in the International Union of Biochemistry and the International Federation of Documentation.

Among the other professional organizations to which he belonged were the American Society of Biological Chemists, the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Nutrition. He also was a member of the Council of Biology Editors and the American Society for Information Science.

Mr. Hartes survivors include his wife, Florence, of the home, and two grandchildren.