Helmut A. Hatzfeld, 86, professor emeritus of Romance languages and literatures at Catholic University since his retirement in 1968, died of kidney failure Friday at the Wisconsin Avenue Nursing Home.

A native of Bad Duerkheim, Germany, Dr. Hatzfeld was an associate professor at the University of Heidelberg in the early 1930s. When he was suspended from teaching by the Nazis in 1935, he left Germany and subsequently became a visiting professor at the University of Louvain in Belgium.

He came here in 1940 as a visiting professor at Catholic University and became a full professor of Romance languaes in 1942.

A Scholar and author in several languages, Dr. Hatzfeld achieved international renown for his research of the "baroque" style in Spanish and French literature, a term previously reserved for art historians.

He wrote more than 25 books and approximately 300 articles in his field, including two prize-winning books. The first, published in German in 1927 as "Der Don Quijote als Wortkunstwerk" (Don Quixote as a Literary Work of Art), was a study of the stylistic means used by Cervantes to create his masterpiece. The second, in 1952, "Literature Through Art," was a study of French literature.

A 1953 stylistic bibliography, published in Spanish, French and English, won a French Academy prize.

He belonged to numerous professional societies, including the Dante Society of America.

Dr. Hatzfeld earned a doctorate from the University of Munich in 1915.

His honors included honorary doctorates from universiteis here and abroad and citations from the governments of Spain and Italy and the Vatican. He is survived by his wife, Herta, of the home in Washington. CAPTION: Picture, HELMUT R. HATZFELD, 1962 Photo