Albert S. Nathan, 86, a retired Army major who served in both world wars and a former civilian defense information officer for the District of Columbia, died Thursday at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda after a heart attack.

During World War I, Mr. Nathan served with both the 51st and 4th Pioneer Infantries and with the 166th Infantry during the Meuse-Argonne offensive in Europe.

He was assigned to Army General Headquarters and helped train troops in England during World War II. He retired from the Army in 1959.

Mr. Nathan was a former book editor of the Retired Officers Magazine. During the 1950s and early 1960s, he was public information officer for the D.C. Civilian Defense Agency. He retired a second time in 1964.

A native of New York City, he was a writer and publicist for the film industry there between world wars.

He and his wife, the former Estelle Fried, lived in Washington. Mrs. Nathan died in 1972.

Survivors include a daughter, Flora Nathan Haas of Arlington, Mass.; two brothers, Perry, of Fairfax, and Eugene, of Bethesda, and two grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to a charity of one's choice.