Corwin D. Edwards, 77, a retired professor of economics who specialized in antitrust matters and who worked for the government for many years, died April 21 at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas following a heart attack.

Dr. Edwards was born in Nevada, Mo., and graduated from the University of Missouri. He attended Oxford University in England on a Rhodes scholarship and earned a doctorate in economics at Cornell University. He then taught at New York University.

He first came to Washington in 1933 as assistant director for consumer affairs of the old National Recovery Administration. In 1937, he moved to the Federal Trade Commission, where he was chief economist. From 1939 to 1944, he was an economic consultant and chairman of the policy board of the antitrust division of the Justice Department.

In 1948, he returned to the FTC as director of the bureau of industrial economics, a post he held until 1953. He then spent a year teaching at Cambridge University in England, and another year at the University of Virginia.

He was a professor of business and government at the University of Chicago from 1955 to 1963, and a professor of economics at the University of Oregon from 1963 until his retirement in 1971.

In the course of his government career, Dr. Edwards served on an American technical mission to Brazil in 1942 and as head of the U.S. mission on Japanese combines in 1947. He was an adviser to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations for many years and testified on antitrust matters before congressional committees.

One of his principal concerns was the effects of conglomerates and large-scale consumers and producers on economics and how government policy should respond to these effects. For his studies in this field, called institutional economics, he received the Veblen-Commons Award from the Association for Evolutionary Economics in 1978.

Dr. Edwards' marriage to the former Jane Morris Ward ended in divorce.

Survivors include his second wife, the former Gertrud Greig, of the home in Lewes, Del.; two children by his first marriage, Ward Edwards, of Studio City, Calif., and Mrs. Gerald Greenwald, of Great Falls, Va.; a step-sister, Mrs. J. T. Harold, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., and five grandchildren. CAPTION: Picture, CORWIN D. EDWARDS, 1958 Photo