Dr. Jeanne Miller McFarland , 42 research cheif of the Commerce Departmentment's Economic Development Administration, died of leukemia Saturday at Alexandria Hospital.

Dr. McFarland joined the staff at the EDA in April 1978 and worked on the agency's development finance program. She became research chief at the EDA in January 1979, and had helped direct economic development studies since that time.

She was awarded the Commerce Department's Bronze Medal in 1979.

Dr. McFarland was born in Downers Grove, Ill., and was a 1962 graduate of the University of Arizona. She earned a master's degree and a doctoral degree in economics at the University of California at Berkeley.

From 1972 until joining the EDA in 1977, she was an assistant professor of economics at Smith College, where she taught courses on urban economics and helped develop courses on women and social change and women and labor markets.

She was a resident of Alexandria.

Her marriage to Gordon McFarland ended in divorce.

Dr. McFarland's survivors include her husband, Dr. David W. Rasmussen of Alexandria and Tallahasee, Fla., who is an economics professor at Florida State University; a daughter, Melanie McFarland, and a son, John James McFarland, both of Alexandria; her mother, Helen Wharton of Las Vegas, Nev., and her father, Howard Miller, two brothers, Lawrence and Glen Miller, and a sister, Bonnie May Brown, all of Nevada.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Leukemia Society of America.