Walter J. Chambers, 48, an employe of the publications engineering department of Vitro Laboratories in Silver Spring, died of cancer, Jan. 10 at Montgomery General Hospital. He lived in Silver Spring.

Mr. Chambers first joined Vitro Laboratories in 1961 as a technical editor. He left there in 1968 to become chief of the publications branch of the Center for Research in Social Systems at American University. He returned to Vitro in 1973 and was working with a group doing publications for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory at the time of his death.

Mr. Chambers was born in New York City. He attended George Washington University and later the University of Maryland's extension program at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

After serving in Europe with the Air Force from 1952 to 1956, Mr. Chambers graduated from the University of Maryland here and was a teaching assistant in the English department while taking graduate courses.

Survivors include his wife, Laurie, and two sons, Eric and Mark, of Silver Spring; his mother, Frances Chambers of Berwyn Heights; a brother, Ralph, of Bethesda, and three sisters, Mary Crooks of Lincoln, Neb., Patricia Quarry of Manns Choice, Pa., and Charlotte Thompson of Glen Burnie.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.