Respect, or "street cred" is an element used in GTA: San Andreas to indicate how inclined your gang is to help you. The more respect you have, the more gang members you can recruit to tend to your personal interests. Raising your respect is straight-forward; doing missions and murdering rival gang members and police officers are the most common ways. Respect also affects Sex Appeal.
Up to seven gang members can be recruited. This will not happen until you have roughly 80% of your respect meter full.