Respec points are essentially XP, because they are rewarded at the same rate. They are used to reset a player's skill points, allowing the player to reassign them the way they see fit. Many players decide a skill is not worth the points, while others may use them to progress through earning each of the weapon ribbons and medals. Each time you respec, the cost of the next respec will be higher until the cap is reached. The cost to respec the first time is 1000 points; the second time is 3000 points; after that is 5000 points. After you get enough points to respec your character, you will not keep additional points. Only after respeccing your character (and thus having 0 points saved up) will you begin to accumulate points again.
(Previously, respects were somewhat different. One could not respec until accumulating 3000 respec points even though the first respec cost only 1000. Costs were 1000, 2000, 3000 cap. Points accumulated in a "bank": If your screen showed 20,000/2,000 respec points, once you chose to respec it would then display 18,000/3,000, having spent the 2,000 and showing the remaining 18,000 available to spend towards your next respec, which would cost you 3,000. If you were to start a character in Veteran mode after reaching level 60, you would keep the respec points you had left from your previous character and the cost resets to 1,000 for your first respec as a Veteran Player.)