Jefferson Patterson, 86, a former Ambassador to Uruguay and a career foreign service officer for 37 years, died at Georgetown University Hospital Saturday as the result of a heart ailment.

Mr. Patterson joined the foreign services in 1921. In the next 20 years, his appointments included service in Peking, Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey, the former German city of Breslau (now the Polish city of Wroclaw,), and Oslo, Norway. From 1939 to 1941, he served in Berlin, where his duties included liaison with British, French and Belgian prisoners captured in the early days of World war II.

Mr. Patterson and his wife, the former Mary Marvin Breckinridge, whom he married in Berlin, returned to this country shortly before the United States became a belligerent in the war. They then served in Lima, Peru, until 1945.

Immediately after the war, Mr. Patterson was posted to Brussels. From 1946 to 1949, the period of the Palestinian war in which Israel gained its independence, he was in cairo, Egypt. From 1950 to 1952, he was the U.S. representative to a United Nations special committee on the Balkans and was stationed in Athens. In 1954, Mr. Patterson was the special representative of President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the inauguration of the first parliament of the Sudan and served in the same capacity at the International Trade fair in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

in 1956, he was appointed Ambassador to Uruguay. He resigned from the foreign service upon completion of that assignment in 1958.

Mr. Patterson was the author of four books. One, "Family Portraits," was about his family, which included one of the founders of the National Cash Register Co. The other three - "Capitals and Captives," "Diplomatic Duty and Diversion" and "Diplomatic Terminus" - were about his career and his profession.

Mr. Patterson was born in Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Yale University. He served in the Army in World War I.

His interests included the Dayton Art Institute, the Montgomery County (Ohio) Historical Society, the Society for the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

He was a member of the Metropolitan Club the University Club, the Chevy Chase Club, the Army and Navy Club, Diplomatic and Consular Officers retired (DACOR), the Buzz-Fuzz Club in Dayton and the Brook and Yale Clubs in New York.

In addition to his wife, of the homes in Prince Frederick, Md., and Washington, survivors include a daughter, Patricia Patterson, of Manchester, N.H., and a son Mark Patterson, of Telluride, Colo.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the DACOR Educational and Welfare Fund, 1718 H. St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20006.