NEW YORK (AP) _ The World Jewish Congress says it has found a 1948 U.S. Army document listing former United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim as a suspected Nazi war criminal.

The document identified Waldheim, a candidate for president of Austria, as a German military intelligence officer, and said Yugoslavia sought his apprehension, the congress said Saturday.

Under the heading ''reason wanted,'' the document said ''murder,'' the group said.

A photocopy of the Army document released by the congress was not legible. The copy was made from microfilmed Army records on file at the National Archives in Washington, said Elan Steinberg, a spokesman for the group.

Waldheim, secretary-general from 1971 to 1981, denied any wrongdoing in a statement released Sunday in Vienna by his press spokesman.

''The hints dropped in the now allegedly surfaced document were evidently considered as untenable from the beginning and, therefore, never pursued,'' the statement said.

Waldheim denied earlier this month that he belonged to Nazi groups before World War II. He said he served as a translator in a German army unit in Greece but did not know that the unit deported Jews to death camps.

Some of the charges stemmed from an investigation by the World Jewish Congress, which on March 4 released a photograph purporting to show Waldheim with a Nazi general, Alexander Loehr, in Yugoslavia in 1944.

The statement by Waldheim press secretary Gerold Christian denounced the WJC pursuit of the matter, saying: ''Following accusations made by the World Jewish Congress in New York today, Dr. Waldheim stated that they, like the previous allegations, are without foundation whatsover and are being categorically rejected.

''It is the evident attempt of the WJC to continue the ... slander campaign toward degrading the Dr. Waldheim's reputation.''

It said that Waldheim ''was in no way involved in actions he is (now) charged with.

''He was used on the East Front as a soldier of a reconnaissance section (unit) and was subsequently active with staff units in the Balkans, i.e. between 1942 and 1943 as interpreter between German and Italian units and as of 1943 as third Ordonnanzoffizier (assistant adjutant) of Army Group E. In spring 1945, he was transferred to an infantry unit in the Trieste area ....''

The statement also said that Waldheim's ''unanimous election as secretary- general of the United Nations for two consecutive terms would have been ruled out in the presence of even the slightest elements of suspicion.''

Steinberg said that on Tuesday the World Jewish Congress would release ''a ton of documents'' purportedly detailing Waldheim's activities in Yugoslavia.

He said the document released Saturday, located by a researcher for the group, was a page from the Army's ''Combined Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects.'' The listing said to discuss Waldheim is a single line; Steinberg said it began: ''Waldheim, Kurt ?''.

Steinberg said the question mark was meant to signify an uncertain spelling of the first name. He said the document did not list a birth date, and that it listed Waldheim as having served as a lieutenant on the intelligence staff of army Group E in Yugoslavia from April 1944 to May 1945.