Our understanding of intratumoral heterogeneity in cancer continues to evolve, with current models incorporating single-cell signatures to explore cell–cell interactions and differentiation state. The transition between stem and differentiation states in nonneoplastic cells requires metabolic plasticity, and this plasticity is increasingly recognized to play a central role in cancer biology. The insights from hematopoietic and neural stem cell differentiation pathways were used to identify cancer stem cells in leukemia and gliomas. Similarly, defining metabolic heterogeneity and fuel-switching signals in nonneoplastic stem cells may also give important insights into the corresponding molecular mechanisms controlling metabolic plasticity in cancer. These advances are important, because metabolic adaptation to anticancer therapeutics is rooted in this inherent metabolic plasticity and is a therapeutic challenge to be overcome.