Patrick Bissell, 30, the 6-3, 190-pound star of the American Ballet Theatre, was found dead Dec. 29 at his apartment in Hoboken, N.J.

The state medical examiner's office said it would run tests to establish the cause of death.

Throughout his brief and troubled career, Mr. Bissell attracted adoration for the excitement he generated on stage and public criticism and professional scoldings for his antics off of it.

He was reported to be in and out of treatment centers and hospitals.

His troubles surfaced nationally in December 1980, when the American Ballet Theatre dismissed him and ballerina Gelsey Kirkland for "their gross breach of contract," including their failure to appear for a dress rehearsal with the orchestra at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 9.

The suspension was lifted the next April. A month earlier, he had been arrested in New York City for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and pushing a policeman.

Then in 1986, Kirkland published her memoirs, "Dancing on My Grave," in which she told of sharing with Mr. Bissell the misery and complex addiction of cocaine.

Born in Corpus Christi, Tex., Mr. Bissell studied in Illinois and North Carolina before joining the New York City Ballet's School of American Ballet. He danced briefly with the Boston Ballet before making his debut with American Ballet Theatre in 1977.

He earned leading roles in "Don Quixote," "La Bayadere" and "Theme and Variations," roles that had been performed by American's director, Mikhail Baryshnikov.

He was paired with Kirkland in "The Tiller in the Fields" and quickly became known for his virile stage presence and the strength that enabled him to lift ballerinas with a single hand. He was seen nationally opposite Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory and Martine van Hamel.

The instant fame and accompanying pressure took their toll, he said in a 1982 interview, and he began "drinking very heavily and doing other terrible things that I don't want to talk about . . . . "

After learning of Bissell's death, Baryshnikov said, "Patrick Bissell was without doubt one of the brightest lights in ABT theater history or, for that matter, in the entire ballet world. Beside his brilliant technique, Patrick also possessed an artistry that touched us all."