Stephen G. Barber, 58, the Washington bureau chief of the Daily Telegraph of London since 1963, died in Georgetown University Hospital Sunday after a stroke.

Mr. Barber, who was born in Egypt and educated in England, spent almost 40 years as a foreign correspondent. He also wrote a book about American policy in the post-Vietnam period, "America in Retreat," which was published in 1971, and he appeared frequently on television and radio programs in this country and abroad.

Mr. Barber began his newspaper career in 1940 as a copy editor on the Egyptian Gazette in Cairo. Two years later he joined the Associated Press and covered World War II campaigns in the Mediterranean theater for the rest of World War II. He was injured during Allied landings on the island of Elba.

After the war he joined the News Chronicle of London and remained with the paper until it closed in 1961. His assignments during those years included the Greek civil war, the Korean war, and the newspaper's Rome bureau, from which he covered events in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Mr. Barber joined the Daily Telegraph in 1961 and was stationed in New Delhi until his transfer to Washington two years later. He covered the major political campaigns in this country as well as the assassination of President Kennedy and other stories. He remained active until shortly before his death.

Survivors include his wife, Deirdre, and a son, Simon, both of Washington, a stepson, Charles McLaren, of London, and two stepdaughters, Caroline Sargent, of London, and Julia Ridley of Rome.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Salvation Army.