Former vice president Dan Quayle, short of funds and lagging badly in the polls, will announce today in Phoenix that he is dropping out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, authoritative sources in his campaign organization said last night.

Quayle, a former senator and representative from Indiana who shared the 1988 and 1992 tickets with President George Bush, was unable to keep pace with the fund-raising and political pace set by Bush's son, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The ridicule Quayle suffered in the press for his verbal gaffes during the four years after the elder Bush made him the surprise choice for a running mate convinced many Republican activists who share his conservative views on economic and social policy that he was unelectable.

When he finished eighth in the Iowa Republican straw poll last month, even trailing talk show host Alan Keyes, several of his competitors' campaign aides said Quayle was finished. But he insisted then and for weeks afterward he would test his strength in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary next winter.

But aides said he and his wife, Marilyn, canvassed his prospects this weekend and decided that even if he had a breakthrough in New Hampshire, he could not compete in the rush of primaries that come immediately afterward with Bush and publisher Steve Forbes, who is financing his own campaign.

"Dan had always promised his supporters he would not ask them to continue to help him if he had no realistic prospect of winning the nomination," a campaign aide said.

Quayle's withdrawal is the latest step in the narrowing of the Republican field, as the Bush and Forbes financial resources put pressure on rival candidates.

Sen. Robert C. Smith of New Hampshire was the first to leave, quitting the GOP in the process; Rep. John R. Kasich of Ohio folded his campaign two days later and endorsed Bush; and former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander withdrew after the Iowa straw poll, where he finished sixth. Two-time candidate Patrick J. Buchanan, who barely edged out Alexander, has hinted strongly he will leave the GOP next month to seek the Reform Party nomination.

In addition to Bush and Forbes, who finished first and second in Iowa, the GOP field includes Arizona Sen. John McCain, who did not compete in Iowa but will announce his candidacy formally today in New Hampshire; former Red Cross president Elizabeth Dole, who finished third in Iowa; Gary Bauer, former head of the Family Research Council, who finished fourth; Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, the last-place finisher; and Keyes, who came in between Alexander and Quayle.

The absence of Quayle, who moved to Arizona after the 1992 election, could make it easier for McCain in his home-state primary, but generally speaking, Quayle was seen as a competitor to Forbes and Bauer for support of social-issue activists.

The effect is likely to be felt most sharply in New Hampshire, site of the first primary. Quayle had the active support of former New Hampshire governor and Bush White House chief of staff John H. Sununu. He also was considered the possible preference of the Manchester Union-Leader, the state's biggest paper and an influential voice with conservative voters.

Quayle's withdrawal will likely allow Forbes to press his argument that he is the only contender who has the resources to go the distance against Bush, whose record-breaking fund-raising and scores of endorsements have made him the candidate to beat.

Aides said Quayle is unlikely to endorse anyone at the news conference today and said he had not conferred with any other candidate about his decision.

The announcement brings an end -- at least for now -- to one of the most meteoric careers in the last two decades of American politics. Quayle, a member of a newspaper-owning family in Indiana and Arizona, was only 30 when he defeated an incumbent Democrat and won the first of two House terms from Fort Wayne. In 1980, he upset veteran Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh (D) and began making a name for himself on both defense and manpower training issues.

But Bush's decision to tap the then-41-year-old Quayle at the Republican convention in 1988 was a surprise. Quayle stumbled through the early days in the national spotlight, struggling to answer questions about how he had gained a spot in the Indiana National Guard during the Vietnam War.

In his four years as vice president, he worked on space issues and pressed for easing regulation of business. But he was best known for embarrassing incidents such as misspelling "potato" in a New Jersey classroom and criticizing television character Murphy Brown in a speech decrying out-of-wedlock births. Quayle became a favorite target of newspaper cartoons and late-night TV comics.

After the Democratic victory in 1992, Quayle's supporters in Indiana urged him to move back and run for governor in 1996, but he told them that would be a step backward -- a decision he has said privately he now thinks was a mistake.

Instead, he taught at a business school in Arizona, campaigned for other Republicans and sought to repair his damaged reputation. His campaign speeches ranged from advocacy of a 30 percent across-the-board tax cut to a reasoned critique of U.S. policy toward China. But when George W. Bush entered the race, Quayle lost whatever chance he might have had of becoming the establishment Republican candidate, and too many of his ideological supporters in the conservative movement were skeptical that he could be elected.

Now 52, Quayle faces the prospect of rebuilding from scratch a career that -- until the elder Bush plucked him perhaps prematurely from the back benches of the Senate -- had been on an unbroken upward path.