The heterogeneity of tumor cells and the potential existence of rare cells with reduced chemotherapeutic response is expected to play a pivotal role in the development of drug resistant cancers. Herein, we utilized the colon cancer cell lines, Caco2 and DLD1, to investigate heterogeneity of topoisomerase 1 (TOP1) activity in different cell subpopulations, and the consequences for the chemotherapeutic response towards the TOP1 targeting drug, camptothecin. The cell lines consisted of two subpopulations: one (the stem-cell-like cells) divided asymmetrically, was camptothecin resistant, had a differently phosphorylated TOP1 and a lower Casein Kinase II (CKII) activity than the camptothecin sensitive non-stem-cell-like cells. The tumor suppressor p14ARF had a different effect in the two cell subpopulations. In the stem-cell-like cells, p14ARF suppressed TOP1 activity and downregulation of this factor increased the sensitivity towards camptothecin. It had the opposite effect in non-stem-cell-like cells. Since it is only the stem-cell-like cells that have tumorigenic activity our results point towards new considerations for future cancer therapy. Moreover, the data underscore the importance of considering cell-to-cell variations in the analysis of molecular processes in cell lines.