Ira F. Zartman, 81, a former physics professor and assocaite director of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a retired official of the old Atomic Energy Commission, died Tuesday in a nursing home in Annapolis after a stroke.

Dr. Zartman was an associate director of the Applied Physics Laboratory during World War II. He headed the laboratory's project in the development of the proximity fuse.

He was an associate professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University from 1948 to 1950 and then came to Washington to join the AEC. He retired in 1968 as chief of the commission's reactor physics branch. From 1961 to 1963, he had been an attache at the U.S. Embassy in Japan dealing with matters concerning atomic energy.

He was a resident of Bethesda before retiring to Annapolis in 1968. Since that time he had been a member of the public review committee of the Vermont Yankee atomic power reactor in Vermont.

Dr. Zartman was a native of Pennsylvania and a 1923 graduate of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. He earned a master's degree in physics at New York University in 1925 and a doctoral degree in physics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1930.

Between 1930 and 1948, he was a member of the faculty at Muhlenberg College and also served as chairman of its physics department.

Dr. Zartman was a member of the American Physical Society, the Cosmos Club and the Pennsylvania German Society. He was a member of Reformation Lutheran Church in Washington.

His marriage of 36 years to the former Edythe Wenger ended with her death in 1960. A year later, Dr. Zartman married the former Dr. Eva Nemes. In addition to his wife, of Annapolis, his survivors include a son, Dr. I. William Zartman of Washington; a sister, Edna Ober of Ephrata Pa.; a brother, E. Forry Zartman of Litiz, Pa., and one grandchild.