White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan apologized yesterday for his remark that most women would not understand the issues raised at the summit in Geneva, saying, "I misspoke, very frankly, and when I misspoke apparently it was a beaut."

Regan, appearing on CBS News' "Face the Nation," initially sought to explain his remark, published in The Washington Post last week. Regan said yesterday he thinks that most women are interested in the issue of world peace but "aren't interested in the nitty-gritty" of the Geneva arms-control talks between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Asked by CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl whether most men were interested, Regan said "most people" weren't interested.

"Why did you separate?" Stahl asked.

Regan then said he "misspoke" and apologized "to those who feel offended," adding, "My own wife wasn't offended, by the way."

The Washington Post reported Nov. 18 that Regan said he expected the coverage of Nancy Reagan and Gorbachev's wife, Raisa, to have considerable appeal, especially to women. "They're not . . . going to understand throw weights or what is happening in Afghanistan or what is happening in human rights," Regan was quoted as saying. "Some women will, but most women -- believe me, your readers for the most part if you took a poll -- would rather read the human-interest stuff of what happened."

Regan said yesterday he was "horrified" to learn that his remark was "so misinterpreted." The comment "seemed to have that implication, that I didn't think women understood. Far from it," he said. "I know women understand, many women understand, these things."