Douglas Claughton Fox, 72, retired exhibits project director with the old U.S. Information Agency, died of cancer Thursday in a Lewes, Del., hospital. He had lived in Ocean View, Del., for the past four years.

Mr. Fox retired from USIA in 1972 after 11 years there. Before that, he worked for the Department of Commerce and was acting chief of the Office of International Trade Fairs when he left there in 1961.

He was born in Betws-y-Coed, Wales, and was brought to this country as an infant. He grew up in West-field, N.J., Plandome, N.Y. and Centreville, Md. He received his higher education in England and Germany.

During the 1930s, Mr. Fox was with the Frobenius Anthropological Institute in Frankfurt, Germany. He was a captain in Army Air Force intelligence In Italy in World War II. After the war, he was with Radio Free Euripe in Vienna, Austria.

He is survived by his wife, Jocelyn, of the home; a dauthter, Melissa C., of Cambridge, Mass.; two stepchildren, Alison Tichenor, of Troy, Mich., and David E. Dirkpatrick, of Virginia Beach; his stepmother, Mrs. A. C. Fox, of Dover, Del., and two half-sisters, Nancy Moorshead, of Rosemont, Pa., and Elizabeth McCormick, of Middlegurg, Va.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Millville (Del.) Ambulance Service or the American Cancer Society.